It seems impossible to summarize such an incredible, life-changing experience in only a matter of words and a few photographs. You know that phrase, life-changing? Everyone who has ever studied abroad has used it to describe the experience. And before I went abroad, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical of the term. How can going to a couple of different places totally change your life?
Well, I found my answer.
Check out this Fresh Perspective.
Living in a foreign country is terrifying at first. I remember walking the streets my first day, not knowing what any of the street signs said or what people around were talking about. Yet I quickly learned 90% of language is non-verbal: reading people’s faces, body language, and a variety of obscure hand signals can really get you by. A language barrier can seem totally impossible to overcome, but in reality, it's just a problem you learn how to solve like so many others. It pushed me to be more observant and attentive when communicating with people, even if we were speaking the same language.
|Google translating at the grocery store, Tesco!|
Living abroad also allowed me to discover the passion of cooking! Getting away from the college cafeteria, I mustered up the courage to go grocery shopping and whip up meals at home in my small European kitchen. The struggle of reading food labels in a different language was no biggie, thanks to my best friend Google Translate.
| My attempts at cooking at home, definitely
part of the maturing process while abroad.
Studying abroad in Prague, a place in the center of Europe, allowed me to travel to tons of different countries. This not only allowed me to explore my host culture but also the cultures of the surrounding countries. It not only allowed me to see how different places are culturally diverse but forced me out of my comfort zone, preventing me from getting stuck in a routine in my host culture. I was able to meet dozens of amazingly interesting people, including fellow travelers and locals, which left me with a network extending not only across Europe but across the world!
I went on some bucket-list worthy adventures - like CAVE EXPLORING in Hungary!
In every country I visited, I took a jumping photo. I coined the term #lesserhops.
| #Lesserhops in England, Austria, Germany, Italy,
Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Hungary.
Now if you don’t have the luxury of studying in a European city, you can still explore your own host culture, which brings me to my final point.
GO GO GO AND SEE MORE
Perhaps my favorite thing about my study abroad experience was the constant stimulation. I lived in a foreign city, and I had time on my hands and new friends by my side. Every day was a new adventure, from attempting to master public transport to investigating new recipes with new ingredients at the grocery store, checking out art installations, farmers markets, food festivals, and unique coffee shops. Or something as simple as ending a long day of school and homework by going to watch the sunset over the Vltava river while munching on strawberries, bread and cheese, in true European fashion.
|A busy Prague Tram.|
|River snacks, Fresh strawberries!|
It's this attitude of NOT staying at home and hiding away behind a computer screen (okay, maybe sometimes) but going outside and exploring, meeting new people, trying new things, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn more about the world around me and about myself. It’s because of this attitude that I feel my study abroad experience has changed and shaped me for the better. It's one of the many reasons why if anyone is considering study abroad, my advice to you is: GO. AND. DO. IT.
Dan Lesser is the Spring 2018 CEA MOJO Photographer in Prague, Czech Republic. He is currently a Sophomore studying Film Production at Chapman University.
Daniel Lesser is the Spring 2018 CEA MOJO Photographer in Prague, Czech Republic, and is currently studying at Chapman University.