“Not all those who wander are lost.” -J.R.R. Tolkien
Except me. I was usually lost. Being lost seemed to be the theme of my entire study abroad experience. I took every wrong turn, ordered food I wouldn’t consider edible, almost missed flights, buses, and trains, and exchanged countless stares with strangers because of the language barrier. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I left for Europe one week after the 2016 spring semester ended. I was scared because I had never flown anywhere in the United States by myself, let alone outside the country. I was so stressed and busy with finals that I didn’t have any expectations set for studying abroad. Once I arrived in France I realized I hadn’t even looked up the weather. It was at least 10 degrees colder than what I had packed for.
I spent 6 weeks taking classes in Nantes. Nantes is the sixth largest city in France located about 213 miles southwest of Paris. It rained constantly which made traveling on the weekends even more desired. Every single Sunday we returned from traveling it was raining and it surprisingly became appreciated because rain meant we were home from a long Sunday of traveling. The pastries in Nantes were amazing. All good days started with a chocolate chip pastry before class. The classes I took were challenging and we were in class for around 6 hours a day. My classmates were from all around the world: America, Italy, Mexico, France, Germany, China, Vietnam, and many more places. They were all bilingual; some spoke over 4 different languages. I learned so much, solely from my classmates and the overall experience.
While abroad, I also had the privilege of traveling to Florence, Madrid, Lagos, Paris, and London. Every single city was incredibly different. Studying and traveling around Europe is an opportunity to see the world, meet amazing people, and learn about yourself. I wish I would have been pushed sooner to study abroad because being in Europe for 6 weeks wasn’t long enough but I know it won’t be my last time!