Reflections from the Studying abroad Process

Europe was a game changer. Yep, everyone says it, but boy is it true. Honestly, it’s totally cliché but the world outside of the United States is uniquely different. Even between differing first world countries there’s a change – this was, in my opinion, one of the more important lessons I learned while away. I can distinctively pinpoint that my trip to London, UK was the trip that I learned this. London feels like America. Everyone speaks English and is rudely passive aggressive. And, London has the Arlington, Virginia American favorite of Five Guys in the city center with Starbucks at every other corner – America, am I right?! Yet at the same time, it wasn’t my perfected version of living and growing up in the United States. If you talk to the locals, you can identify that either you can’t understand their speech either through accent or dialect of English speech and the morals are significantly different. Which can be said about Nederland but with my five-day excursion through London it hit me that I loved the truly European culture of students living at home till they graduated university, taking public transport everywhere, and plane tickets being under one-hundred euro round trip because it was uniquely not America. However, if there’s anything that stands out to me since arriving back to the United States is that I never want to see the small amount of clothes I brought abroad with me ever again. Frankly I could burn them and be extremely happy. Elizabeth drills it into you that “YOU NEED TO PAIR DOWN EVERYTHING YOU BRING WITH YOU.” And yes, I distinctively remember sitting in a room the semester before I left as she’s dripping it into our ears and everyone freaking out. I was not freaked out to this point due to the fact that I have been traveling around the states since before I can remember pre-k. But, for some reason Elizabeth got to me this morning…might’ve been finals looming over me and having to put down security deposit for my European flat. However, personally, all stress aggravators aside, I would beg to differ. The exchange rate currently is not kind to United States students and as such is more expensive to buy things once you get over there. Yes, bringing two checked bags and a carryon is annoying but your wallet and sanity will thank you later. Another factor that stands out to me since arriving home is do not exclusively hangout with people also from your home country. I saw it happen in different programs; and yes, they had fun, but they had a completely different experience than I who had friends from all different continents other than North America. To be honest the only people I hung out with from North America were the people I went to Nederland with – hey y’all! However, no matter how much I moan and groan about the difficulties of being an expat, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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