5 Benefits to Studying Abroad

Enrich Your Soul By Studying Abroad

"One's destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things." --Henry Miller

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During my junior year of high school, you could find me doing one of three things—studying, playing volleyball after school, or visiting college campuses with my mom trying to figure out where I wanted to be during those four amazing years of college.

Being the prepared student that I am and always have been, I had my three go-to questions I always whipped out for our guides. One, what has been your favorite and least favorite about being a student here? Two, what activities have you been involved with as a student? Three, what are the study abroad opportunities like at this university?

Studying abroad has always been on my mind and when I finally saw my chance to go on one, I jumped at this opportunity. My study abroad program is unique in the sense that it was only, unfortunately, one month long, or what we like to call a "Maymester" since it happens during the month of May.

This Maymester studying abroad in Pamplona, Spain has been everything that I expected but at the same time much, much more than I ever could have planned for. When we are given opportunities in life, we must take them and see where the ride takes us. If you are considering doing a study abroad program, don't be afraid to take that little leap of faith. It is worth more than you ever could have imagined possible.

1. You start to feel less like a tourist and more like a local.

This is very difficult when you take a one or two-week vacation to a foreign country. You are most likely staying at a hotel of some sort and doing all those "touristy" things you Googled after you bought your plane ticket. Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to stay with a host family, in a university housing, or some other housing that will give you a cultural experience of living among the locals. After exploring the city and getting settled in, you become accustomed to the way of life and will tell yourself, "I think I could live here one day."

2. You have so much more time to explore the city and country.

I have been fortunate enough to have already traveled outside of the country and visit foreign places, but I have not been away for one month. My professor did an excellent job of designing the trip so we can hit all the main sights and beautiful cities throughout the Maymester while also just staying in town and enjoying dinner among the locals. You can actually relax and take your time without having to constantly look at your watch trying to get from place to place.

3. You foster connections with the faculty and students on your study abroad and also at the university you are studying at.

After lunch every day, people in Spain like to partake in what is called "sobremesa." Instead of eating, talking, and then leaving restaurants, the people in my group will enjoy each other's' company over a cup of hot café con leche after our three-course meal. All study abroad programs are not created equal, but there are many out there that will let you enjoy your meals like the locals do and foster connections between students and faculty on your trip. Man, I sure will miss our sobremesas.

4. You will have an indescribable cultural experience unlike anything possible after graduation.

Once you become an adult, that's game over. Of course, you can still travel whenever you have time, but that's the key…"whenever you have time." The cycle for most of us is that we go to school, we graduate, we get a job, and we work. Every single week, we work. Vacation days for traveling will become difficult to schedule around your travel partners. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have this unique of being in a foreign country for such an extensive period.

5. It's fun, gosh darn it!

Think of the coolest thing you have ever done in your life and it is even cooler than that! It's so cool, that when your friends and family ask you how you're doing over in *insert country here*, you can't even begin to scratch the surface to describe your emotions and day-to-day experiences. If you're worried about juggling classes in a foreign country because classes are hard enough in the U.S., don't be. That is obviously easier said than done, but it is a leap of faith that ultimately teaches you lessons you never knew you needed to be taught and feel emotions you have never felt before.

Cover Image Credit:

Maggie Roth

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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Visiting A Long-Distance Friend in Edinburgh

It was a short but sweet trip and we packed in lots of fun activities.

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I lugged my heavy suitcase off the train onto the busy Edinburgh train station platform. Before I could get my bearings, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I quickly turned around to see my closest and oldest friend, Sasha, with the warmest smile on her face. After a big hug and quick catch up, we braved the bustling tourist streets of Edinburgh in June.

I spent my first week of summer vacation in the United Kingdom. I visited family, met my baby cousin, spent time with my godfather, and enjoyed my favorite city. All in all, it was such a wonderful way to start my summer break. One of the highlights of the trip was going to see my best friend in Edinburgh.

Sasha and I have been friends since we were eight years old. She and I quickly bonded and formed a close friendship that despite the distance, we have maintained for almost 12 years. We don't talk constantly but when we do it is like nothing has changed. I am complete, 100% myself around her and I couldn't ask for a better friend.

Prior to this trip, it had been a little over two years since I'd seen her, which in our opinion was far too long. So knowing I was going to be in the UK for ten days, I scheduled 3 of them to be in Edinburgh with Sash. It was a short but sweet trip and we packed in lots of fun activities.

Day 1.

I arrived on Friday afternoon. We dropped my suitcase at Sasha's apartment, which is a scenic fifteen-minute walk from the station past the infamous Edinburgh castle. Sash then took a walking tour of the city through Princes Street Gardens and the Royal Mile. We stopped for a drink at a pub on the GrassMarket. We talked and talked and caught each other up on the highs and lows of the past two years.

Grace Bellman

There is something about an old friend that makes you feel so comfortable. Sash has been my friend through it all. She didn't walk away when my life didn't look so pretty and she always makes an effort to prioritize our friendship.

Sasha made a healthy vegan potato curry with naan bread for dinner before we set off on a hike up Arthur's Seat. The crazy thing about Edinburgh is that one minute you are walking through a busy city street with buses and cars and tourists and general organized chaos, and the next minute you are walking up an extinct volcano, looking down on the city at sunset. It takes your breath away (from beauty and exhaustion).


Grace Bellman

Day 2.

I forced Sash to be a morning person and started our day relatively early. Our first stop: The National Gallery of Scotland. Neither Sash nor I feel the need to spend too long in museums so we whipped around the exhibits quickly and found a trendy coffee shop to get a pick-me-up. We took our coffees up Calton Hill, a less vigorous but still beautiful walk than Arthur's Seat. I think this may have been my favorite spot of the trip. We attempted (and succeeded) in climbing the National Monument and laughed so hard while trying to take pictures in the classic Scottish windy, slightly damp weather.

All this walking and climbing made us quite hungry so Sasha took the opportunity to show me part of her university. We ate black bean burgers and chips at the Student Union Library Bar before proceeding to hop between thrift stores, book stores, and art galleries for the next few hours.

Later that afternoon, we visited the National Museum of Scotland, which is home to a series of exhibits about animals, music, and technological advances. For someone who is usually not the biggest museum fan, it was fascinating and very enjoyable.

Physically tired but still high in spirit, we discussed what to do with our evening. We spontaneously decided to attend a local comedy show in the basement of a theatre. Both Sash and I hate to be called out in an audience but we muscled through and ended up really enjoying the new experience.

Grace Bellman

Day 3.

My last morning in Edinburgh was wonderful. We, of course, had to check out the famous castle on a hill before stopping at a lovely cafe for some coffee. We then explored the Writer's Museum. It was in a small building that seemed to be a house in its previous life. It had old memorabilia from Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. From photographs to old shoes and even locks of hair, the museum seemed to have covered each of these men's lives in detail.

My final meal in Scotland was definitely indulgent, to say the least. Sasha took me to a new restaurant, Cold Town Beer, with a rooftop view of the castle and a really yummy vegetarian full breakfast. We were both full to the brim with food and with post-meal sugar highs.

Sadly, I only had about half an hour before I had to get to the station so we marched back to her flat, packed my bag, and ended the trip in the way we started: dodging tourists with my heavy bag on the hilly streets of Edinburgh.

It was such a special trip that made me realize how much I am missing by not living closer to one of my closest friends. It was a funny feeling waving goodbye to her from the train knowing it would be at least a year, if not more until I would see her again. But I guess that phrase is really true: "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" - A.A.Milne.

Sasha Milne

Sash, thank you for having me and for being a friend through everything. We survived our separation at thirteen, high school, and the first two years of college apart. There is no way we can't get through another year. Have an amazing time studying in Spain and Italy. I'll see you soon.

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