I Studied Abroad In College, And So Should You

I Studied Abroad In College, And So Should You

"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world". - Mary Anne Radmacher
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It’s the time of year when many colleges are recruiting for study abroad programs for students to participate in over the summer break. I studied abroad for a month the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college on a poultry farm in Nampula, Mozambique. Mozambique is a country in southeast Africa, and is one of the poorest countries in the world, with only a 15% EMPLOYMENT rate. Before leaving for this experience, I was nervous about what I was getting into. Now, I truly believe it was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and anyone who is considering studying abroad should do it for these simple reasons.

1. You meet and get close to so many new people.

My university is big, with over 20,000 students, so as you can imagine, I don’t know everyone. I didn’t know anyone who went to Mozambique with me at first. We all walked into our first group meeting and it was completely silent, with no one talking to each other. That changed quickly though. When you spend a month in a country with VERY limited internet access and few people who speak the same language as you, you tend to get close to those you're traveling with. I also met people who worked on the farm from all around the world, and despite some language barriers, I still formed relationships with them that never would have happened had I not embarked on this opportunity.

2. The once-in-a-lifetime experiences.


I checked things off my bucket list that I didn’t even know were on my bucket list. I swam in the Indian Ocean, and then watched the sun rise over it the next morning. I attended church in an African village, and heard them recite the Lord’s prayer in Portuguese. I did relay races at an orphanage, and slept under a mosquito net to protect against malaria. I went on a safari and saw wild lions, giraffes, elephants, and many other animals. I learned a southern hemisphere constellation, and stargazed on a beach with zero light pollution. As you can see, the experiences are endless and some just pop up and you take them because who knows if you’ll ever be back to where you are in that moment.

3. Culture shock.


This one isn’t usually seen as a good thing, but I honestly think it opens your eyes to the world around you. I went from complaining about there not being seconds at dinner, or the lack of hot water in our hotel to being thankful for any food and the fact that I even had running water. There were so many times I had to remind myself to not be a diva. I sometimes catch myself complaining about petty things, and it doesn’t take much for me to remember how truly lucky I am to have what I have.

4. You learn to get over yourself.

So what you’re only alive due to the bottle of Pepto you’ve been carrying around with you and everyone else on the trip knows it? You haven’t washed the clothes you’re wearing the whole time you’ve been away? Oh well. The most anyone has been able to do is hand wash their clothes in the sink anyways. If you start crying for some unknown reason, that’s fine too. You trip on a flat surface and you get a massive cut on your leg that you still have a scar of to this day? The worst that'll happen is you'll get the superlative for 'most likely to trip on a flat surface'. Everyone has issues of all different kinds, and you learn to accept your own and not judge anyone else for theirs.

5. People skills.

The downside to only speaking the same language as a few around you, is that you can only fluently talk to handful of people, which can cause some rifts. I learned that if I needed alone time to get through an issue, that was perfectly okay. But I also learned to look past any disagreements and work together with my teammates since that was what I was there to do.

6. You put a face on that "starving kid in Africa".

Now this is only applicable if you study abroad in an impoverished country in Africa, but it can be applied in many ways depending on where you may go. I think everyone, at some point in their life, have joked about "some starving kid in Africa" when their friend doesn't want to finish their food at a restaurant, or when their sibling doesn't like their dinner and refuses to eat it. When people joke about these “starving” kids, I now see faces that smiled at me while I was away. I remember people I worshiped with on a Sunday morning, and children who played soccer with (and MAJORLY beat) me. That phrase isn’t just a phrase anymore, it is actual people, and I do my best to speak up when someone carelessly uses it.

Studying abroad was one of the greatest experiences of my life so far. I truly don't think anyone regrets studying abroad. It might be scary, intimidating, a lot of money, etc…but there has been nothing in my life more rewarding than my experience in Mozambique. No matter where you feel called to go, GO! It might turn out to be the greatest experience of your life.

Cover Image Credit: Victoria Tarkington

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Top 50 Things You'll Hear A Southern Say

Y'all.
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For those of you who may need a little help understanding the slang of a southern, I made a list of the top 50 phrases and sayings, along with their translations.

1. Bless your heart.

My favorite saying. It is an empathetic phrase that is usually uttered when the speaker believes the recipient to be sweet, but misguided or stupid. It can also be used if the speaker believes the recipient needs to grow up and deal with it, when the speaker says it in a sarcastic tone.

2. Barking up the wrong tree.

Means being misguided or mistaken.

3. Aren't you precious?

Mostly this saying is used in a sarcastic tone in response to someone being offensive.

4. Britches.

Pants or underpants.

An example would be, "Your britches are too short, you can't wear those".

5. Coke.

Regardless if it's Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, or another carbonated beverage, it's called Coke here in the South.

6. Fixin' to.

Simply means that you are about to do something.

7. Get the short end of the stick.

This phrase means that you basically got an unfair deal or cheated out of something.

8. Give Me Some Sugar.

Simply means give me a kiss.

9. Hissy Fit.

A hissy fit is a grown-up version of a temper tantrum that is as bad as one that a toddler would throw.

10. Hold Your Horses.

Be patient.

11. Holler.

When you say "holler" you are basically letting the other person know something.

Example: Holler at me when you are ready to get something to eat.

12. If the creek don't rise.

This saying simply means that if nothing bad happens, everything will go as planned.

13. You're as slow as molasses in the wintertime.

This phrase means that you are being EXTRA slow.

14. Muddin'.

Off-road four-wheeler riding with the intentions of getting mud everywhere and possibly losing control.

15. Skat Cat.

A phrase that can be used instead of saying "God bless you" when you sneeze.

16. There's Not A Pot Too Crooked That A Lid Won't Fit.

There is someone for everyone.

17. Pitcher.

We mostly mean a plastic container that holds sweet tea, not the position of a guy on the baseball team.

18. Reckon.

When you say "I reckon", you believe that something is true.

19. Hoot With The Owls, Soar With The Eagles.

This simple phrase means that if you are going to stay up all night, you should be able to get early in the morning.

20. Too Big For Your Britches.

Simply means that you take yourself too seriously.

21. Stompin' Grounds.

Your hometown or where you grew up.

22. Back In The Day.

Back in the day could be a month ago, a year ago, or 20 years ago.

23. You're A Spitting Image Of (Insert Family Member).

Yes, I know I'm a spitting image of my mother. "Spitting image" simply means that you look just like someone.

24. "Darlin, Sugar, Sweetheart"

These words are simply terms of endearment.

25. Buggy.

A buggy is a cart/basket at the grocery store.

Example: Who wants to push the buggy?

26. Quit Crying Or I Will Give You Something To Cry About.

This phrase simply means to quit crying and if you didn't then more than likely you got a spanking,

27. Where You Raised In A Barn?

If you are from the South, you have probably been asked this more than once, especially when you left a door open.

28. Close The Door. You Are Letting All The Good Air Out.

This southern heat is nothing to play with. It simply means to keep the door closed so the air (or heat if its winter) stays inside.

29. You Are Going To Make Me Lose My Religion.

When you say this phrase to someone, it more than likely means that person has done something to irritate you or made you mad. Thank goodness Jesus saves.

Example: You are going to make me lose my religion.

30. You Look Like A Chicken With Your Head Cut Off.

This is said when you are running around like a crazy person. It can be said if you are looking for something that you are searching for or if you are just really busy.

31. Y'all.

The southern way to say "you all".

32. You Can't Carry A Tune In A Bucket.

If you've ever been told this, it means that you can't sing.

33. Have Their Feathers Ruffled.

You normally have your "feathers ruffled" when you are pouting.

34. Two Peas In A Pod.

When you and someone else are "two peas in a pod", it means that either you almost always together or that you two are almost identical in the way you think and do things.

35. Well Butter My Butt And Call Me A Biscuit.

This saying can be used when you are surprised or excited.

36. Don't Let The Door Hit Ya Where The Good Lord Split Ya.

When someone say this they typically mean to get out and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

37. You're As Good As Gold.

When you are "as good as gold", it means that you are well-behaved and obedient.

38. It's Raining Cats And Dogs Out There.

This simply means that the rain is really coming down hard. It's not actually raining cats and dogs, people.

39. I'm Full As A Tick.

This phrase means that you ate too much food.

40. I'm Sweating More Than A Sinner In Church.

When someone says this, it means that they are really hot and sweating A LOT.

41. Pot Calling The Kettle Black.

This phrase is used when one person is guilty of the very same thing of which they accuse another person.

42. There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat.

It means that there is anyways more than one way to fix something.

43. Shut Yo' Mouth.

Means to be quiet or hush up.

44. Whatever Floats Your Boat.

This saying means to do whatever you want to do.

45. Slap Yo' Momma.

This phrase means that something is good.

Example: This BBQ is slap yo' momma good.

46. She's Like A Bull In A China Shop.

When you tell someone this phrase, you are telling them that they are clumsy or careless in the way that they move.

47. Cuttin' A Rug.

Cuttin' a rug is used to describe dancing.

Example: Let's go cut a rug tonight.

48. Clicker.

A clicker is another name for a TV remote.

49. Slow Your Roll.

This also means to be patient.

50. You're A Hot Mess.

When you tell someone that they are a "hot mess", you are simply telling them that they don't have it together.

Cover Image Credit: silhouetteamerica.com

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To The Girl Who Feels Pressured to Settle Down, Don't

I know how tough it is to face the world but, keep fighting. Don't give up yet.

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Hey girl,

You.

Yes, I am talking to you.

The girl who feels like she is carrying the entire burden of the world.

I know how pressured and worried you feel. You are in your late 20s and while it still feels like you are not an adult yet, your friends and cousins settling down says otherwise. I know how lonely and chained you feel, the suffocation and dread that you have to experience every day. You aren't afraid of settling down but you are scared to do it out of family and peer pressure. You aren't afraid of the big commitment but are terrified that you will be forced to choose the wrong life partner for it.

We all have been there. Counting the days till the closest of our friends and relatives get married because, we know. Once they are done, it is going to be our turn. Everyone starts finding the perfect match for you and forces you to meet guys you have never even heard of before. Your skin crawls and stomach churns every time you have to endure one such meeting but, what can you even say? Your parents emotionally blackmail you and your friends getting married doesn't help your case at all.

But, what I am here to tell you is that it is okay to be scared and vulnerable during such times. Just don't settle because you are scared of dissappointing your family or because you are scared to be alone. Hold your head high and work on your life, make it better. And when it is time for you to settle down, you will know.

You will know and you will find the most amazing partner who will make you feel like this is what being safe and home feels like. He will love you whole, with your flaws and your quirks, and he will make you realize why it didn't work out with anyone before. He will make you laugh and cry, curse and stutter, and you will be happy to finally tie the knot with your own prince charming. Once you are ready and it is time, you will meet the perfect guy for you and you won't feel afraid anymore. Settling down won't seem intimidating or like a task anymore.

So, wait. Wait for the moment, the perfect time to settle down. Trust me, you will know when it arrives and everything will fall into place smoothly. Till then, enjoy your life and live to the fullest. Go and travel the world or learn all the new things that you have ever wanted to try. Learn new languages or some exciting adventure sports. Read books and make something out of yourself. Work hard and achieve what you always dreamt of becoming. But most of all, be happy and live your life.

You will have time to grow up later and start your life again with someone. There is absolutely no need to hurry. So, next time your best friend gets married and you don't know what to do with your life, take a deep breath and focus on what you want. Focus on the best parts of your life and don't give up.

Next time your parents force you to meet someone to settle down, learn to say 'No', Because, this is your life and unless you learn to take responsibility for it, you won't ever truly live it.

So, keep fighting and don't keep any regrets. Life is too short to be living on someone else's terms. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Be strong. Because, there is only so much you can compromise on but love, love shouldn't be one of those things.

Love,

The girl who understands

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