Why Spending My First Semester Of College Abroad Was The Best Decision I've Ever Made

Why Spending My First Semester Of College Abroad Was The Best Decision I've Ever Made


Last year around this exact time, I was packing my bags and getting ready to head to Dublin, Ireland, where I would spend my first semester of college (and my first time away from home). The nerves I felt were unparalleled to anything I had ever felt in my life, and the hope that my life would play out like the "Lizzy McGuire" movie was all I could think about. Through the good and the bad, I can easily say that my time abroad at age 18 was the best decision I could have ever made, and even though it is not the most conventional way to start your college experience, I couldn't think of a better way as a now Sophomore to give myself the confidence to start a new chapter in my life.

1. The nerves that come with going to a strange place where you don't know a single person is similar to what every college freshman goes through, but instead of going to a new campus, you get to go to a new country.

(can't say I've seen a better view at my college)

2. You instantly bond with the group that you're studying with. Just like at any college, you're roommate situation can a total shot in the dark, but sometimes, like in my case, you get lucky and you and your best friend get to travel and experience a new country together.

3. Dining hall food is just not a thing when you're abroad, so testing out your favorite "Tasty" video or exploring a city for the coolest restaurants has never been easier.

4. Let's be real... the legal drinking age is 18 in most European countries, so you never have to worry about not being let in to your favorite bar while studying abroad. Also, while most are bouncing from frat to frat, you and your friends get to experience city nightlife like real adults!

5. Traveling the world has never been so easy. Flights are cheap and weekend get aways to places you never thought you'd be able to visit become a reality.

(Amsterdam, Netherlands)

6. Just like any college freshman, you will get homesick. The fact that you will not be able to go home at all for your first four months of school will start to sink in, but in the end, the experience is worth the feelings of missing home, because you are creating a new one in a new place on your own.

7. When it finally is time for you to come home, you are a totally new person with new experiences that not many other people your age have accomplished. Also, you know that you are more than capable of flourishing at your college after taking a semester to travel the world on your own and make amazing friends along the way.

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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5 Vital And Helpful Tips I Live By When Packing For A Trip

Try and pack smarter, not harder.


If you are anything like me, you tend to overpack thinking you are being a great packer and being ready for any scenario that life may throw at you. Well, that is, unfortunately untrue, and I have learned that you are only doing more harm than good. Over the years, I have come up with five tips I always use when traveling and have been proven to work. You've heard of the five golden rules of life, and, well, these are the five golden rules/tips of packing.

1. Start with a packing list.

This is the best tip I could give to anyone else who is getting ready to travel. Making a list is very useful, especially when stressed about your travel. You will not forget anything because you have it all written down. A packing list is a great way to keep organized when packing.

2. Use space bags.

Now, this is a tip my dad lives by. Space bags are great when you are packing because it protects your clothes and makes room to put a lot in your suitcase. The crazy story of a time when my dad was traveling, and his friend's bag was soaked with the shampoo he brought on the plane. All his clothes and everything inside the suitcase was ruined. So always use space bags because you never know what could happen on the flight. You can buy a space bag here.

3. Pack the essentials first.

I will be honest and say that I do over-pack a lot. I use the line "just in case" as an excuse to pack my entire house. But I have learned that packing for "just in case" is a waste of time. When you first sit down to pack, lay out all your essentials. For example, clothes that you will wear during the trip. You will be surprised to see how effective it is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In The World

4. ALWAYS pack an extra outfit in your carry on.

This tip is one that I have been very grateful that I used. A while ago during my trip to Canada, my check-in bag was missing and delayed for multiple hours. Luckily I had an extra outfit to keep me fresh and not feel gross. It is always crucial to this in your carry on In case of emergencies such as your bag getting lost.

5. Put identification on your suitcase.

Everyone in the airport somehow tends to have the same black or red suitcase that you have, which only means confusing when you're trying to find your check-in bag. To quickly identify your suitcase, put a sticker, or tie a ribbon on the handle. You can easily pick up your suitcase and leave. This will prevent any sneaky people trying to steal or claim that your suitcase is theirs.

P.S.: Use a bright color ribbon or a different sticker. Also, tie the ribbon properly to make sure it's secured.

I live by these five packing tips every time I travel so I hope you can use them the next time you take a trip!

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