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

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If You Give A Girl A Little Brother

You've given her the world.

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?


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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