The thing I wanted out of studying abroad was to get away from Iowa and to figure out who I am. I wanted to see a different part of the world. I wanted to make new friends that liked to travel as much as I do, but maybe the most important thing I wanted to accomplish here was getting outside of my comfort zone as well as discovering what it is I truly want out of life. Sometimes when you have responsibilities back home it can be difficult to remember to work on yourself once in a while. As it happens I have been learning a lot, and I now know more than I did when I left home.
For starters the midwest including Iowa is very small town. Everyone is friendly and they have a can’t wait to get to know you attitude. If you are like me you went to school with the same people from elementary and then graduated high school together. Some of those people might have even ended up going to the same college as you. My best friend and I have known each other since we were little munchkins playing t-ball together, and to be honest it seemed a little impossible for me to ever think about leaving my family. I didn’t know if I would be able to handle being truly on my own. I guess the main reason I decided to go ahead with this crazy idea was because I truly wanted to do something different.
My neighbor, Brandy studied abroad as well as a few other girls I went to school with, and seeing all of their pictures online made me realize that, that was something I wanted to do. I was in no way prepared for the challenge I was going to face in the next few months. I didn’t know that I would be so homesick, but I also never expected to have so many great experiences along the way. If you get the chance to study abroad take it. Don’t just do two weeks, which yes you can do, but it challenges you more if you have to go through a semester. You have to get used to a new way of living and a new cultural norm. I don’t think you really grasp how different until you have been in a different country for at least a month. I will never be used to the streets being so small. Seriously guys they are tiny!
I figured out how to navigate while in other countries, and if you know me you know that I am the world’s worst map reader. Seriously, I am pathetic it really isn’t even up for debate. Sure, I got lost for the first two weeks of being here and sometimes I still get turned around, but now I actually know where I’m going. It only took me a month before the end of the semester to figure it all out. To be honest though figuring out where I’m going and finding things like the grocery store weren’t even the hardest part of this experience. I know the hardest thing for me was living with people I had never met. Imagine throwing six girls who have never met each other into and apartment and then saying well have a good semester I hope this all works out for you. It hasn’t been the easiest experience, but it has taught me to keep my big mouth subdued… you thought I was going to say shut right, yeah dream on kids.
All of us have different personalities but the easiest way I can describe us is stereotyping. Grace from Massachusetts is the Betty Crocker/ Martha Stewart, she can literally do anything and everything. Courtney from Michigan is the mom, she makes sure we are all behaving and basically takes head count when we go out. Lexie from Colorado is the down for anything girl. She is literally up for anything whether it be skydiving, hiking, jumping off a cliff, or just going out she is ready to go. Trish from Michigan is the messy roomie, she will be the first to admit this too, she is also very funny. You can’t help but laugh with and at her antics. Andy from Michigan, who is my immediate roommate, is the flower child. She is very creative and into art. She is probably the most well read person I have ever met who is my age. We are also polar opposites which makes life interesting she is quiet, I am loud. She is a night owl that stays up until the wee hours, and I am an early bird which means I get up an hour after she falls asleep. If you haven’t guessed it by now my role in this group of girls is the drama queen, I know you never saw that one coming, but I guess I tend to make a huge deal out of everything. I prefer to say that I add flair and or finesse to the group, but to be honest they probably all wish I would chill out. As a group we have all learned a lot and grown not only as students, but as people.
I am beyond excited to be coming home soon, and even though thirty days seems like an eternity I know it is going to fly by. I will be home before I know it, and this was definitely the experience of a lifetime. I miss home so much, but there are also things here I am going to miss. I will miss the fact that no one is in a rush to really do anything. The first week in one of my classes my professor told all of us to chill out and take our time it wasn’t a race. This cracked me up because truthfully in America everything is balls to the walls get up and go compared to here. I will miss the rich history here. The city is full of signs of the renaissance. Every street you walk down breathes it. In fact the apartment building I live in was built in the 13th century, that’s older than our country! Most of all I will miss the people I have met here, and the experiences I have had along the way. Life is a journey and I truly believe that as people we are all meant to travel. Sometimes it just takes leaving your home to truly find out who you are.