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Study Abroad Blog

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How Studying Abroad Changed Me

It’s hard putting together the words to articulate how I’ve changed since my journey in Europe started four months ago. Its dream-like, independence-saturated foreign world filled with new experiences and sights already feels like a daytime reverie.
 Studying abroad allowed me to discover my creativity through photography.

It’s easy to show off the selfies, to squish the “candid” moments into perfect little squares, to show the souvenirs I’ve picked up along the way and the stories that come with them - it’s even easy to gush about the “most amazing four months of my life - ever,” but the tricky and not so easy part is figuring out how this experience changed me.
 I learned to enjoy the small things -
like this yummy stack of pancakes!

It was hard to deny my attachment to Paris when three weeks before my flight home, I would have these random moments of sadness slap me in the face. On the metro, walking to school, or overhearing frivolous French in the background - I would get choked up thinking of leaving this magical place.

Now that I’ve had my time to process, I can definitely say that studying abroad has changed me for the better.

Laying in my apartment the very last night I had in Paris, a wave of different emotions flooded over me. The waterworks were working again and for the first time I understood why I was crying.

I felt proud of myself.

 The travel bug definitely bit me while exploring Europe.

The first time I’ve really felt proud of myself - in a while at least.

I imagined little ol’ me imagining opening up my own little French cafe called “Cafe Mademoiselle” that would have an outdoor patio and fresh coffee. I recalled all the times in French class during high school, memorizing vocab words. And it all felt worth it. I did it, I made it happen for myself.

I felt like a real adult, facing real challenges, and learning about my culture, my strengths, my weaknesses, and the world of opportunity waiting for me just on the other side of fear.

Spending time away from the known and into the unfamiliar forced me to consider truths different than mine. I began looking at the world with not the same lens I began with.

 At the end of the semester, I showcased my poems and photographs at the CEA Reflections Abroad Conference!

The world is large, but mostly small. Life is complicated, but mostly simple.

Not knowing where you’re going is perfectly okay. You’re going to get lost. Things will not go as planned. There’s things worth stressing over, but there’s also a whole lot of things not worth sweating about.

Most importantly, life is a constant state of becoming. After my time abroad, I’ve now decided to look at life like a big adventure - and I’m ready to jump in headfirst.

Leah D. is the Fall 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France. She is currently a Junior studying News & Documentary Production at Chapman University.

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