Nice and short little brief of how I’m feeling in Europe, Germany and other fun things. Can’t pass up my opportunity to talk about it, can I?
Halfway through my Study Abroad experience, I can tell you – I’m not sure if I’ve taken the right the things away from my experience. Yes, I suppose I’ve learned more German – it’s probably doing me some good to be someplace where English isn’t the main spoken language. Alright, I can say that I’ve developed an appreciation for other cultures that may or may not have been so present before.
But the most striking idea that being abroad has cultivated is a sense of perspective. It’s one thing to visit a foreign country, to stay in a hostel or a hotel – but being in an entirely different country without my father or another “adult” – trusted figure, has given me a strong appreciation for home.
And not just the whole of America. When I say home, I mean the warm somewhat fuzzy feeling that seeps in through your bones when you see your friends on the street, or you hug your father when he returns home from work. The small things that you don’t really appreciate until they aren’t there anymore.
Yes, study abroad has changed me. Perhaps not in the way they expected. It’s given me pause when I now think of living abroad after university studies have ended. Do I really want to live in an entirely different country alone? Could I do it without the strong and reliable support system that I’ve developed in Boston and Washington DC?
Do I want to?
But there’s more to Study Abroad than simply sitting around learning German and having deep philosophical debates about my future and whether or not Europe will play a significant part in it. Being in Europe has really opened up my eyes to how easy it is to travel, whether I want to spend a day in Paris or half a second in Belgium. I love the simplicity of taking a train, or sitting and writing in a cafe for the whole day – without one waiter glaring at me.
It’s an entirely different way of life from the USA, which is good and bad in different ways. Everyone loves a little bit of change, the way a person giggles when you leave a restaurant, knowing you don’t have to tip (and ignoring how much more expensive it is), or the smile that lights up your face when someone actually asks you to dance, as opposed to rudely grabbing. But as much as I love everything about Europe, being here has made me realize how much I undervalue my life in Boston and DC.
Yes, there are things about the places that make me want to grind my teeth. Our government, gah! Don’t even get me started. But there are other things that make me smile. The fact I can go up to someone and ask them a question, without having severe stage fright about asking in German. The idea that I always know how much to tip, and I can always get myself home. I can’t guarantee that here.
It’s hard to fit everything I’m feeling into one simple blog post, and I’m certainly not trying to. What I’m trying to do, in fact, is make a point. Being abroad has most definitely changed the way I think. Being abroad has made me appreciate my home. I love being abroad. I love being home. There are good and bad sides to every place, no matter how hard you try to ignore them, but Europe is not the end-all be-all best place to live, and neither is the US.
So to all you dreamers and lovers of England and the romance that supposedly sweeps the steps of the Louvre, absolutely go. But remember your little hometown, or city, and don’t let it slip away.
Everything in life is worth visiting once, twice, maybe even three times. And most of all, my home is worth visiting – about as many times as I can make it.