6 Things You Learn During Your First Week Abroad

6 Things You Learn During Your First Week Abroad

There's no place like home, but home is what (and where) you make it.
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I have officially been in England for one week, four days, and two hours, and it's all be chaos. I have eleven more weeks, but I don't think I really understood the meaning of 'study abroad' until this past weekend, when I finally had some time to digest. Yes, I may be halfway across the planet, but so far it's really not that different from my freshman year.

1. It's just as awkward as your first year.

Those awkward conversations with strangers? Turns out they're the same, regardless of the language barrier. Figuring out the shower situation with your roommates can still be frustrating, and a shared kitchen space is just as chaotic (and sometimes just as gross) as it is back at home.

2. You will get lost.

Because my campus in England is considerably smaller than my home campus, I thought I would learn my way around much faster. I was so wrong. This morning I spent about five minutes sitting in the wrong lecture hall, before realizing that I am not studying pharmacy. Just my luck: the only door to the classroom was located directly next to the professor's podium. Laughter in an English accent is just as embarrassing as laughter in a southern accent.

3. You will miss your school back home.

I love studying abroad, I really do. But sometimes I also miss home, where my friends are, where I know my way around, and where there are warm, gooey Lenoir cookies. With that said, there are also new friends, you will learn your way around, and there are cookies in every country on Earth. I promise.

4. You will not be prepared to study.

Going abroad is typically a vacation, and getting out of this mentality is difficult. I had notebooks, pencils, and my laptop was charged, but until I sat down in my first lecture hall I didn't fully comprehend that I'm here to study. Travel and experience the world, but don't forget to make a little time for that philosophy reading.

5. The weather may confuse you.

I am studying abroad in England. I was prepared for rain. So far, there have been exactly 2 rainy days while I've been here, and it's been warm until sunset every day. That's not to say it won't be cold and rainy in the future, but I'm definitely glad that I brought my basic t-shirts and jeans, not just long sleeves and rain boots. Pro tip: don't forget to also plan for trips! If I go to Italy, I'll definitely be glad to have my sundress and sandals, and in Iceland I'm sure I'll want my sweater and scarves.

6. You'll need to treat yourself.

I know that I am surrounded by glorious, rich, delicous coffee, but after a particularly homesick day last week, I really only wanted a Starbucks mocha frappucino. So I got one. Don't be afraid to treat yourself to something that feels like home, even if it seems frivolous. Studying abroad thrusts you into an entirely new environment, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing something to make it feel like home.


Final Thoughts:

Studying abroad is a huge, exciting, scary adventure. Sometimes you'll feel like you're in a different universe, and sometimes it'll feel just like your first year, but regardless, it'll eventually become home. Keep in mind that two (or ten) awkward experiences aren't the end of the world, and regardless of the language difference, every college student feels a little homesick. Even if that home is halfway across the planet.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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If You Give A Girl A Little Brother

You've given her the world.
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I remember back to my childhood, standing at the top of the steps yelling down to my parents "Why did you decide to have another child?" I remember riding in the backseat yelling "Mom, was I not good enough for you?" as my brother threw snow at me .

I remember crying when my mom made us share our first cell phone. I remember playing in a pool at a waterpark, and my dad couldn't play with me because my brother couldn't swim and needed my dad to be with him. I played by myself, thinking "They must have not wanted a girl when they only pay attention to him."

But now, at almost 22, I realized that the best gift God has ever given me was my little brother.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a pain in her ass.

Oh, he'll be annoying. He'll get in the shower just because you said you were going to. He'll start talking every time you do. He'll pull stupid pranks, he'll make you listen to bogus music, he'll make you watch stupid tv shows, he'll smell up the bathroom (and probably smell himself.) and boy, I promise there will be day's you will resent him. But he's just training for living with your husband one day.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a role.

As a big sister, I had somebody copying all my moves. If I did something, so did he. If I didn't eat something, neither did he. If I didn't like somebody neither did he. He was like a little shadow that did everything I did, so I was always motivated to make good choices and make him proud of me.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a rough side.

I wouldn't have done half the things I did if it wasn't for him. Play basketball in the drive way, spend hours on our bikes, spend the summer days in the pool, or down at the park. I wouldn't have learned that it's okay to get in the dirt and have some fun. I wouldn't have played half the made up, imaginary games we played every day. I wouldn't have played with Hot Wheels, or Lincoln Logs, or Leggo's. I would have played with Barbies by myself all day long, and what's the fun in that?

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her the best friend she'll ever have.

In the end, when our parent's both pass away, I won't be alone, because I will have my little brother. When the world gets tough, and everyone turns away from me, he will always be there. No matter where he end's up in life, I know he will drop everything and come running when I'm in need.

For Christmas this year, I bought my brother his first tattoo. We got matching tattoo's on our sides. Our lives our different now, because we're grown up and live on opposite sides of the state. But no matter where we go in life, if we look up, we will be looking at the same sun and moon. We are made up of the same matter, 'made' by the same people, and love each other more than I think we'd like to admit.

Alex is my true other-half.

Give a girl a little brother, and you made her whole.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Engel

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We Need To Start Taking Sexual Assault Against Men More Seriously

If you wouldn't say it to a woman, why would it be okay to say it to a man?

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Meet Becky. Becky is an attractive, 17-year-old woman looking to find an agent to help her Hollywood career. She finds an excellent, popular agent who invites her to his house for an interview. They have drinks and chat, getting along wonderfully all the while.

But things change quickly. The agent keeps giving her alcohol despite her young age until she is undoubtedly drunk. Suddenly, he climbs on top of her and begins to fondle her. She's torn; she can't insult him without ruining her career, but this isn't what she wants. She's able to push him off without aggravating him, but she knew she couldn't report the issue without angering him and his colleagues. She waits 11 years to report the incident, only to learn that she wasn't his only victim.

It's always a horrifying story. A woman was pinned down and groped without consent by an adult man who had no excuse not to know any better. You're undoubtedly disgusted by the agent's actions, but would you feel the same if Becky wasn't a woman?

If it changes your opinion at all, you're a hypocrite.

Becky doesn't exist, but this is a true story according to Blaise Godbe Lipman, an American actor, screen director, and screenwriter. He along with several other young men, such as Lucas Ozarowski, claim that child talent agent Tyler Grasham made "unwanted advances" towards them and came out with their stories as the #MeToo movement gained traction in 2017.

Lucas Ozarowski's Facebook Post Lucas Ozarowski's Facebook post accusing Tyler Grasham of sexual assault

This isn't just a small group of men though. A 2005 study by the Centers for Disease Control found that approximately 16% of men in America had been sexually assaulted, but that percentage ballooned to 43% in 2018 after the MeToo movement brought greater awareness to what sexual assault entailed. 1in6, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault against men, thinks that these numbers are still inaccurate. According to 1in6, men are less likely to disclose sexual assault status and "[o]nly 16% of men with documented histories of sexual abuse (by social service agencies, which means it was very serious) considered themselves to have been sexually abused, compared to 64% of women with documented histories in the same study." Because of these differences, the incidence of sexual assault against men may be significantly higher than we've come to expect.

But we have a problem as a society: we don't take sexual assault against men as seriously as we take sexual assault against women.

Take Terry Crews' case, for example. The former NFL player and actor in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" was groped in 2016, but he only revealed this information to the public in 2017 as he joined the #MeToo movement. His case was more widely publicized than that of Lipman's and Ozarowski's and some people were... less than empathetic.

King T'Tywala's tweet King T'Tywala's tweet regarding Terry Crews

Unfortunately, this is one of the kinder tweets he received. I will not show the following tweets due to the language used, but the people throwing insults about Crews' masculinity ranged anywhere from the relatively unknown to larger names such as 50 cent. Rather than attacking his claims, many people felt the need to take a jab at Crews' masculinity and capability as a person—just like they've done with other men in his position.

Despite the widely held belief that men need to be strong, calm rocks with good control of their emotions, they aren't inherently stronger than women when coping with the aftermath; a man can feel guilty, anxious, hopeless, and even suicidal after the fact. Men can go into crisis, men can feel inferior, and men can fear for their lives every night when they're safely tucked away in bed.

Just like women.

Sexual assault simply doesn't make the victim any "less of a man." It isn't funny. It doesn't make him weak. The only difference is that people are more likely to look down on him and less likely to support him than if he was a woman. We need to address this and start moving forward as a society so that men start receiving the compassion and support that women do after a horrific event like this. By discarding our ingrained beliefs about what a man SHOULD react like, we can respond properly to what that man DOES react like and give him the help he deserves.

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