The second half of spring semester brings much more stress and sleep-deprivation than we felt in January. Final exam deadlines, job interviews, and graduation for some, are right around the corner. The pressure is on.
When school or life get the best of me and I feel utterly stressed out, I often catch myself dreaming about going abroad again. Studying abroad was, hands down, one of the best decisions I ever made in college. I saw stunning countries and met some truly remarkable people.
When life gets hectic and stressful, I can always count on my memories of studying abroad to brighten the day. Here are a few of the things I dream about:
This has to come first because, honestly, wherever you go your traveling companions make the trip a fantastic experience. They share in the joys of new discoveries, stick with you through the wrong turns and missed trains, and beam up at you out of the pictures you take home.
2.Learning about other cultures
I learned so much about cultures and lifestyles different from my own. Not only when I traveled on weekends, but even at the lunch table! We had a great mix of international students from the United States but also from France, The Philippines, and Spain to name a few. We would all hang out together and compare the differences and similarities of our countries.
3. Indulging in Chocolate
If you’ve ever had European chocolate, you know it is much different (and much better) than what we have here at home. I knew I would not be able to get the chocolate again when I went home, so I never felt bad about eating some. Gotta seize an opportunity, right?
4. Traveling light
Less is the easiest way to travel. I could just pick up my backpack, get on a train, and go anywhere for a few days. Sometimes we would arrive in a city and just wander until we stumbled onto something cool. Our plans could change or evolve whenever we felt like it. It was a complete adventure and a completely freeing way to live.
5. The view from anywhere
Watching a gorgeous sunrise from your window because your body gets you up at 5 a.m is a silver lining of jet lag. Beyond that, I loved walking on cobblestone streets on the way to the bus in the morning, and looking at the green leaves against the bold red brick of the houses. Everything in England was so different than America, that the simplest errands became sightseeing.
6. Being still
Soaking in new sights forces you to always be an observer. Pausing to take pictures of interesting things you find, or peering around corners in hopes of spotting a quaint town square or a delicious restaurant, lets you take in all of your surroundings.
In a day-to-day sense, the pace of life for an international student is much slower. The English school system was less rigorous, and I couldn't have a job because of my visa. This left me a lot of free time where I was allowed to relax without missing out on everything.
7.Walks around town
English weather never changes. It got a bit cooler in winter, but it was always nice enough to go out for a walk in the park, to a tea shop, or out for ice cream. It wasn't actually warm enough to eat the ice cream without shivering, but we didn't care.
Since returning to my home university I am always rushing to class, to practice, or to frantically scarf down a sandwich before my next commitment. I never appreciate the beautiful buildings on campus or a sunshiny day. I rarely take the time to walk aimlessly around with a friend or pop into a coffee shop, but I really should.
8. Overhearing little kids with English accents
It is the most precious thing ever. Ever.
When I would take the 3p.m. bus from Uni back to my flat, I would run into all of the little kids getting out of school for the day. They would be walking beside their parents, holding their hands, and chattering away. I would smile to myself as I passed by them.
England gave me so many experiences: the heartwarming, the life-changing, the crazy and unimaginable. I am grateful for the photos and memories that I can flip through after a long week of classes. Thanks to the wonderful people and our remarkable adventures together for giving me so many things to miss.