4 Things I've ACTUALLY Learned About Myself On Study Abroad

4 Things I've ACTUALLY Learned About Myself On Study Abroad

No, this isn't about chicken nuggets.
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When I was going to write this article, I was going to make it something to oppose the joke I made last week. You can read all about that here.

I wanted to focus my energy on writing something that wasn’t necessarily serious, but would definitely talk about all the things I’ve learned about myself this past month being on my own. I’m still going to do that, but it’s definitely not going to be as serious as I wanted it to be because let’s be real, I’m currently writing this as I cool down from running frantically from one airport to another because I messed up my flights. So, even though I would love for you to believe I have it all together, that would just not be true.

With all of that being said, here are some things that I've actually learned about while abroad.

1. It’s okay to be sad

When I first set out to study abroad I put up a front and made it sound like I wasn’t going to miss being at home, or with my family, at all. Before you peg me as the world’s worst daughter and sister, I knew I was going to miss my family, but I just wasn’t expecting the week worth of homesickness that hit me as soon as I shut the door to my dorm room the first couple of nights. When that happens, admit to yourself that you miss home and just call your fam.

2. You can figure things out on your own

Okay, I mean I knew I could do things on my own before I left for my study abroad, but being on a whole other continent and not being able to just immediately tell your family your problems or have them fix something for you on the spot changes things. I thought I was a quick thinker before, but I’ve definitely improved.

3. Go out of your comfort zone

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy or anything, but if you’re used to going everywhere with your friends or never going out to dinner on your own, give that a shot. This isn’t the time to fall into the same comfortable lull that you exist in at home.

4. It’s never as bad as you think

Sure, there might be hiccups here and there and I know that during the adjustment period of being at a new school and a new country I was constantly stressed out and most times on the verge of tears (I blame getting sick as soon as my plane hit U.K. soil). With all of that being said, even if you miss your flight, or train, or make a fool out of yourself, it’s all an experience and when all is said and done, they’re going to make the best memories.

Cover Image Credit: Rebecka Lindahl

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Political Activism Doesn't Have to Be Intimidating, Despite What You May Believe

My experience has taught me to embrace opportunities to be politically active, not shy away from them.

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In January of my junior year of high school, I was invited by a close friend to travel with her and her mom to participate in the Women's March in Washington, DC. The issues that fueled the march were extremely important to me and so I jumped at the chance to go.

I remember driving up the night before and hearing on the radio the estimated number of participants for the march and not being able to comprehend that I would be surrounded by so many like-minded people. While reassuring, the prospect of being surrounded by so many emotionally-charged people, especially following the presidential inauguration that sparked a very wide spectrum of people to be in the city, was overwhelming.

The morning of the march I remember walking outside to get coffee and seeing women, men, and children wearing the now infamous pink hats all around.

When it came time to walk over to where the march began to hear the array of speakers for the day, it was hard to walk far at all without running into a crowd of people going to the same place. However, instead of being chaotic and overwhelming, I felt a sense of pride in the fact I was participating in something that mattered to me and impacts so many people, but also a sense of security in that everyone around me was overly kind and dedicated.

The chants and cheering that were broadcast on national news surrounded me all day and not once did I feel unsafe or unsure of my surroundings. I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself and knew that while my presence didn't necessarily make a huge difference in the state of things, it made a huge impact on my life.

Putting myself into a situation where there is a lot of controversies was scary at first. I was afraid of being judged, out of place, of being somewhere that would turn violent and so on. However, I could not be more grateful for the invitation to attend the march because it was truly a life-changing experience.

My senior year, so this past year, was when schools around the country held walkouts in the name for gun reform, safer schools, or whatever motivated students to walk out in the name of ending gun violence at schools. In all honesty, a few years ago I never would have participated, not because of a lack of interest, but because of the concerns I previously held before the women's march.

Again, I am so glad I went to the walkout and was able to hear my peers speak about their concerns about gun violence and be able to look around me and know that I was in the company of other passionate students.

No matter your cause or conviction, I encourage everyone to no longer be complacent with the world around you and let your voice be heard for issues you feel passionate about.

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