5 Things I've Learned After Studying Abroad

5 Things I've Learned After Studying Abroad

I'm ready to go home, but not ready to leave.

Three months ago, I was packing to study abroad. I had no idea what to expect, yet simultaneously had a million expectations. I was going to see all of Europe, travel constantly, meet tons of new people, and jump out of my comfort zone. I'm not a partier by any means, but I was determined to fully experience everything possible. After all, study abroad is the opportunity to become a totally new person.

Some of my preconceived ideas were true. I have traveled, met lots of amazing people, and certainly got out of my comfort zone. But some of my ideas were disproved. So after three months in Europe, here's what I've learned:

1. It's not so different.

England has been very similar to home in a lot of ways. There's KFC, college students wear leggings constantly, and Netflix is just the same. Within all of that, it's easy to forget that I'm abroad until I get off campus and into the city. It's surprised me how quickly I adjusted, and how quickly this place has felt like home. And then suddenly I'll be on a train, passing fields of sheep with the ruins of an ancient tower in the middle, and it'll hit me that we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Travelling is weird like that: you can adjust to almost anything, but some things will always surprise you.

2. You still have to study.

This might seem obvious. After all, it's study abroad. Especially in England, however, it's been difficult to stay focused. I haven't had any graded assignments yet, and my final papers are 100% of my final grades, so it's dangerously easy to slack off. On the one hand, this situation is great: I can travel on weekends and not worry about a quiz on Tuesday or a paper on Friday. Take advantage of your free time, but don't forget that it'll all come down to that final paper. And pro tip: your professors know if you've put in the effort.

3. You need less than you think you do.

Travel light. Please, God, travel light. It's so easy to rationalize those four sweaters and two pairs of jeans and a spare pair of shoes, but trust me, you'll be happier with just a backpack. For a three-day trip, I ended up taking one pair of leggings, two t-shirts, a sweater, and the clothes on my back. Wear your bulkiest clothes on the plane, and always leave room for gifts and souvenirs. Trust me: you'll buy them.

4. Things are expensive.

Admittedly, this is the same at home. But when you're in a new country, you're going to want to go into town, go to dinner, buy the macaroons from that bakery. I'm all for treating yourself: this is a once in a lifetime experience, and you have to take advantage of it while you're here. But prepare beforehand. Work hard, save up, and be careful once you're abroad. You don't need those chicken nuggets, but you're going to want the coffee at the sidewalk cafe in Paris.

5. You'll be ready to go home, but not ready to leave.

I don't know how to explain this feeling. With the holidays approaching, I'm excited to go home, curl up with my family, and enjoy my mom's pumpkin bread. But on the other hand, I can't believe I have less than two weeks left in my time here. After years spent planning and dreaming of studying abroad, the experience is almost over, and I'm certainly not ready for that. I've come to the realization that there will always be more things to do and more places to see. I could spend my entire life in Europe and still have more to experience. But I've done everything I wanted to in my limited time here, so it's time to go home.

Studying abroad is one of the greatest things you can experience. Getting out of your comfort zone can be scary, but at the end of your trip you'll be a new person. I don't want to leave, but I'm going back home with new ideas, new outlooks, and a new sense of just how huge the world is.

Cover Image Credit: Pexel

Popular Right Now

10 Things You Know To Be True If You Live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn

"Take the B", they said.

For anyone that is currently living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and or has lived there, you know it's an *interesting* experience. From the various food joints, to the movie theater, everyone's love/hate relationship with Crazy George, Emmons Avenue, the B/Q trains, the new apartment complex that some people love and others completely despise, and everything in-between, there's no other neighborhood that's just like Sheepshead. You know you're from Sheepshead when:

1. You've either spotted Crazy George somewhere out on the streets or in a random location (usually in Dunkin' Donuts).

Don't get me wrong — it's not funny that he appears to have problems, but it's also not ideal that he goes into various stores harassing the workers. He's a one of a kind human being and I do wish the best for him and/or that he does get some help.

2. When it comes to Brennan and Carr and Roll n Roaster, you either love one of them much more than the other.

As much as I love Brennan and Carr's Gargiulo burger, I'm more of a Roll n Roaster person. Their personal pizza is nice and their fries are to die for -- and yes, I want cheese on that, please.

3. You either love or hate that new apartment complex that's in the works.

You know, this one at 1501 Voorhies Ave.

4. You've become used to the B and Q trains either being delayed, messed up, crowded, and or nonexistent.

"Take the B they said. It's express they said." If I told you how many times the B has gone local, out of service, and or on fire in Brooklyn, then maybe you'd hate it just as much as I do at times. Don't even get me started about how crowded it is - especially during rush hour.

"What about the Q train?" The Q's not much better. It has its times where it goes express in Brooklyn as opposed to local, which doesn't help if you're getting on/off at Neck Road or Avenue U.

5. You either go to UA Sheepshead, another movie theater or don't even bother with movie theaters.

Although going to UA Sheepshead is convenient, their prices are very special for just an average movie theater.

6. You either stick to shopping and dining along Sheepshead Bay Road and or Emmons Avenue or go elsewhere either in the neighborhood, other neighborhoods, or to the city.

While they're both convenient parts of Sheepshead Bay, there are other parts of the neighborhood to go to, such as Nostrand Ave. Sometimes, it's easier to flock to other parts of Brooklyn, but there are times where going to the city is worth the commute.

7. You either shop at Cherry Hill or avoid it completely.

While there are other supermarkets in the neighborhood, Cherry Hill is the only one on Emmons that is open 24/7. Their prices might be high for the neighborhood, but their prices could be much worse.

8. You remember when Sheepshead Bay High School was one school...

...and not an educational complex.

9. You're still low-key bothered about how the neighborhood recovered after Sandy.

I'm not going to say that it was the same after the hurricane. Although it didn't take the longest time to recover, that doesn't mean that damage wasn't done.

10. But regardless of how you may feel, by the end of the day, you're probably still super in love with the neighborhood.

It's an incredibly unique neighborhood. You can take someone out of Sheepshead but you can't take the Sheepshead out of someone.

Cover Image Credit: Curbed NY

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Stop Trying To Make Life So Black And White

Consider that you being right doesn't make someone else wrong by default—and vice versa.


Life isn't black and white.

Perhaps that sounds like an obvious statement, but nonetheless, it still needs to be said.

Furthermore, life isn't just one giant grey area—it's several shades. There are so many twists and turns, so many unknowns and layers, that it's impossible for something to be 100 percent one way or the other.

At least, that's how my mind works.

It's difficult for me to stand stubbornly behind my own viewpoints without first listening to someone else's. For me, looking at things from their perspective is second nature. I could be spitting angry at someone, but I can't walk away from them because their perspective is glaring me in the face.

"Yes, what they did was wrong, but I get why they did it," is a line often uttered. This stance, of course, has its drawbacks. It has kept me in toxic situations far longer than it should have. It has allowed all sorts of people to walk over me like a common doormat. It has built up resentment in me for not having my efforts reciprocated.

It has also opened my eyes.

Democrat, Republican, Christian, Atheist, Religious, or Non-Secular—let's find common ground. Let's understand each other because, at the end of the day, we're all human. We all want to be loved and understood.

Maybe the first step is hearing each other. No, I don't mean listening until you can rebut, I mean really hear them. We all have our worldviews for a reason.

Why do you think the way you do? Probably because of how you were raised. Probably because experiences molded your mind and opinions.

We all have different walks of life. We each grew up differently than the other, so it's only natural that we should view the world through different lenses than our neighbor.

Next time, before you pass judgment on another person, consider the fact that maybe they aren't wrong. Also, consider that you being right doesn't make them wrong by default—and vice versa. Life is too layered for us to be right or wrong. Two people can be saying different things and both provide valid points.

Life isn't black and white, it's high time we stopped trying to make it that way. Besides, a picture is infinitely more interesting when it's shaded in and has more variety.

Related Content

Facebook Comments