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A List of My Favorite Study Abroad Realizations

May 08, 2023
by Caroline Briscoe

I've reached a milestone in my study abroad program, and I am down in the dumps about approaching the end of it. The past several months have been the best of my life, and I am not exaggerating. Study abroad experiences differ from person to person, but I have truly learned so much about myself and adored life these past few months. I have to shout out my roommate because this experience may have taken a different turn if I didn't have her with me every step of the way, but note that I did not know her prior. Your experience is all about perspective. You have to be open to new people, new things, and new opportunities.

Two roommates sitting on a park bench laying their heads on each other while looking at the trees, snowcapped mountain, and a pond
Me and my roommate in Switzerland.
Two people standing in front of the decorated John Lennon Wall in Prague
Me and my roommate at the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

To give you some insight, I compiled a list of some of my favorite realizations thus far. I encourage you to take them into consideration on your own journeys abroad.

  1. Adapting to changes

First things first, change is unavoidable. Your lifestyle will change, from the food you eat to the way you spend your free time. If it helps you understand, I'm seven weeks in and haven't touched the oven"¦I went from meal prepping back home to grab-and-go lunches; from driving everywhere to walking eight miles a day; from strict routines to flying by the seat of my pants. Life changes and you get used to your days abroad. Last week, we had spring break, and I got homesick"”for London. This is my home for the semester, but it feels like my home indefinitely.

  1. Finding a balance

Moreover, balance is key. My mom drilled this into my head my entire life, but I finally discovered it myself. It can be easy to lose sight of your priorities while abroad because it almost feels like an extended vacation. I've gotten caught up in weekend traveling and going out, but at this point, I've realized the importance of slowing down"”of listening to my body. Say yes to life, but be self-aware enough to know when it is time to rest and take a step back"”and don't forget about the study part. School (or work) is just as important here as it is back home!

  1. Behind the highlight reel

This one's a cliche, but always remember social media is a highlight reel. Many people go to study abroad so excited about weekend travel around Europe. We all hear how cheap it is to jump from place to place or how easy it is to book a trip last minute, but know that there is a lot more behind those Instagram-worthy photos, including missed flights and some heavy dents in your bank account"”including $63 Swedish meatballs, reindeer ones might I add. One of my favorite trips so far was to Budapest, but what most people don't know is that we were supposed to also see Vienna that weekend, but accidentally slept through our flight. Side lesson: don't freak out when things don't go as planned. In the end, we made it to the famous thermal spas and had one of the best weekends.

Thermal baths in Budapest
At the famous thermal spas in Budapest.
  1. Everything happens for a reason

I believe that everything happens for a reason. The past few years of my life have been full of obstacles that in turn discouraged my confidence. At times, I didn't know if I would ever find my sparkle again. But, the aforementioned obstacles led me to this very moment. I honestly don't know if I would've made the decision to study abroad without those challenges because I was too caught up in my image instead of my intentions. These past seven weeks have given me the opportunity to embrace my independence and work on loving myself for who I am, not for who others want me to be. And, I am grateful for everything that led me here.

  1. Don't take this experience for granted

With all said, don't take anything for granted. This will be an experience to look back on for your entire life"”to share with your kids. Through all of the ups and downs, studying abroad is helping me get to know myself, and I am here for it. As I'm writing this, I am also knocking on wood (or my concrete wall) because I know I am only halfway. However, I am so excited to keep on growing. I will continue to handle the obstacles as they come and remain grateful for the present moment.

A student smiling at a ski festival in Switzerland with a crowd in the back and a snowcapped mountain
So happy to be at a ski festival in Switzerland during spring break.

Caroline Briscoe is the Content Creator - Blogger.
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