For most people, studying abroad is probably something you’ve heard of but have never really taken time to think about. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in college students’ lives. We come in contact with it from movies, random signs on campus, or that student in your class who won’t stop talking about their semester abroad.
But overall, it’s something of a mystery to most people and that’s how it was for me. I obviously knew what it meant when someone said it but I never knew what all it entailed. It was something that I wrote off as too expensive and unobtainable. Yet, here I am in my last semester of undergrad, writing this post to you from a library in England.
I now understand the people that every other word out of their mouth is abroad. All I have to say these days is abroad, abroad, abroad and well you get the point. This truly is a life-changing experience and the best decision I have ever made! Don’t worry, I am rolling my eyes with you at how cliche that is but there is honestly no other way to describe it.
Before I arrived in England in January, I had never even been on a plane. I could count the number of states I had been to on one hand. Now just four months later, I have been to almost 30 cities in over 14 different countries in Europe. With my recent trip to Germany, those numbers are now higher.
That probably seems insane and you’re probably wondering how that’s possible and if I ever go to class. Well the thing is, flights are so cheap over here it’s crazy, so flying is super easy. Also, at my university we get the whole month of April off for spring break. Our classes ended on March 22 and my friends and I took full advantage of that. In five weeks time, we went to 17 cities in nine countries without stopping.
Let me tell you living out of a duffle bag for that long jumping from hostel to hostel was not fun. We wore the same outfits day after day and regretted the clothes we packed thinking we’d have time to look cute. It was a constant struggle in each place to get everything to fit back in and close our bags. Trust me, there is no time that you care about your appearance less than after a couple weeks of flying from place to place, trying to shove an entire city into one day and getting no sleep in rooms full of strangers. Backpacking through Europe is not glamorous; it’s exhausting and dirty and just plain crazy. With that said, it has also been the best experience of my life.
I got to explore places and do things that I have only ever dreamed of. We swam in the crystal clear water of the Greek Island Mykonos, ate an insane amount of pizza and gelato in Italy, kayaked through the Alps in Slovenia, watched the sunset from the old war bunkers in Barcelona and so much more. Studying abroad has brought me so many memories that I still don’t believe aren’t just dreams.
Furthermore, it has also brought me some of the most amazing friendships that I will cherish forever (again, yikes at the cliche). I have met people from all over the world that I have gotten closer to in such a short amount of time than I have with people I’ve known for a while. We have shared an experience so extraordinary and unique together that no one else can understand.
Currently, I live with a few Australians, a German, a Canadian, a Mexican, a Lithuanian and a few other Americans and we’ve already started planning our trips to see each other. I now have someone to stay with pretty much anywhere in the world that I want to visit. Studying abroad has truly changed my life and brought me so much more than I ever expected. So, I guess all I have to say is embrace the cliches! I promise it’s worth it!
Leaving England in June, I will be coming back to America as a Bloomsburg University Alumna. I’ll be entering the real world with the most amazing memories and experiences that a person could have. Spending my last undergraduate semester experiencing everything that the world has to offer has prepared me for anything the future may hold.