When you study abroad you are warned of it all: the classes, the pickpocketing, the new environments and the culture shock you will experience. Endless hours of advice, orientation and warning attempts to prepare you for the experience you will have, but in reality there is nothing to prepare you.
Over the last five months I have experienced it all. I have found myself lost in cities I could barely pronounce the names of. I have toured endless amounts of cathedrals, museums, castles and exhibits. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude more times than I can truly express. Undoubtedly, I am fortunate to have visited all of the places I have, seen all the things I have seen and to have made memories that will last me my lifetime.
Studying abroad has left me penniless but richer in ways that money cannot buy—I find myself a new version of myself. Although I cannot really describe how I have changed, I just know that I have. I find new ways to appreciate my surroundings and the world I live in. I constantly find myself daydreaming into memories of foreign escapes, new places, new challenges and new friends from my time abroad.
Undoubtedly Cardiff holds a place in my heart as another place for me to call home. As I think about returning to school in the fall it is weird to think of myself not walking the streets of Cardiff to the city center, my favorite restaurants nor having girls’ nights in Talybont Court. Each day my realization of how far my “new home” is enhances my appreciation for everything that studying abroad has provided me.
My biggest advice if you are considering studying abroad is to go. Don’t think, just do. Go to a new place; explore its customs, its people and everything it has to offer. There will undoubtedly be times where things are difficult and you think to yourself, “What the hell did I get myself into?” But at the end of the day, from my mini amazing race to my cramming for exams, I could not be more grateful for the crazy ride I endured the past five months. In all honestly, I wish that everyone could experience even just a small portion of my journey.
So, get out there; be timid, be excited, scared and open to new experiences so that you may create your own abroad story.
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.“
Until the next big adventure,