The ancient Romans had a phrase for it: Carpe diem. My generation also has a word for it: YOLO. My motto? I want to have stories to tell, stories of adventures and challenges and people that define and shape me.
My time abroad will teach me to navigate a new country and culture, and I know I will experience a wide range of emotions, from eagerness and excitement to confusion and homesickness, when facing all the positive and negative events such an undertaking includes. It is scary to leap into the unknown, but embracing uncertainty, feeling uncomfortable, and taking chances are the best ways to learn and grow. Read more
As my departure date for Dublin draws near, I find myself spending more time thinking about the experience and what I wish to gain from it. Traveling to a foreign country, I know I maintain the traditional goals of experiencing a different culture, meeting new friends, and gaining a unique perspective; however, I also would like to set higher expectations for myself. Coming from a small town in Pennsylvania and then attending the University of Michigan where I self-admittedly have stuck to my comfort zones, I hope to push my boundaries and work to understand how those in a different country live, learn, and think. I wish to immerse myself in the Irish culture and learn directly from the mouths of the Irish how they go about and experience life.
As an American in a foreign land, I must remember to be respectful and abide by their society’s conventions, never wishing to offend those who I am trying to learn from. Though we are from different countries and cultures, I am confident I will be able to relate to these new people and introduce them to new ideas while they do the same for me. I know this journey I’m about to embark on will be rich in experiences, and I hope to push myself to extract the most from it as possible.
I remember my first few weeks here in South Africa; the nights were very cold and my diet mainly consisted of ramen noodles. That’s pretty much the diet of a typical college student. Though, I went around telling the friends I made, especially the other Americans, that this is what I picture my life in the real world to be like; life after college that is. These four months here felt different from the normal college experience. Having enough food to eat was the most memorable part in those early days of the semester. In my final days I had more food than I could eat. Cooking it all wasn’t even the issue it was how I was going to cook it all before it was time to leave. I feel that I’ve gotten a lot better with cooking. In my time here I’ve learned to successfully make more than just pasta. Seeing my abundance of food in the fridge after exams were over helped me see how I’ve grown over this semester. It showed me that I was able to adapt to an environment outside my comfort zone. It’s been an interesting experience.
For months you plan ahead for your semester abroad – what courses to take, what to pack, where to travel. After a successful (though possibly emotional) departure from the US, you arrive at your destination. The first days are a whirlwind of excitement and new experiences but somewhere around week two, it might hit you…what now? Getting involved in campus activities is one of the best ways to fill that time between class and homework while abroad and meet new people at the same time.
Here’s how one Interstudy Alum, Andrea Fasen, from Colorado State University, got involved on the Queen’s University, Belfast campus during her Fall 2010 semester abroad. Andrea’s involvement in the Mountaineering Club shaped her time abroad and shows the importance of “climbing” out of your comfort zone in more ways then one! Read more
In two months, I will be in Cape Town… I never thought I would ever get a chance to travel to Africa – a destination that seems so distant, mysterious and unattainable for a girl who grew up in a small town in South Carolina and now at small college in Maine. Yet, through the wonderful opportunity of ‘study abroad,’ I will be in Africa in July. Read more