Why study abroad? At first, I had several different answers run through my head, a compilation of everything I had learned on this trip. There were so many experiences we had, so many museums and performances attended. But for me, the most important part about this trip was not the academic knowledge that I took away from it – although of course that is quite important. No, this trip made me so much more aware of who I am as a person, and I am so grateful for having been given the opportunity to explore that.
Before I came on this trip, there were some unwavering things I knew about myself. For starters, I love books (as you can tell from earlier posts). I was confident, though not by a considerable amount. I enjoy learning in any atmosphere, and I was at a point in my academic career where I was ready to delve further into the things I loved. So yes, I knew who I was, but nowhere near as well as I do now. When you’re taken away from your comfort zone for the first time, it can be a huge shock. You may have guided help, true, but for the most part you really begin to wonder who you are. Are you going to ask a stranger for directions? Will you try whatever the national food is, even if you’re not sure what it consists of? Which surroundings and experiences strike you the most? These questions, and many others, were ones I found myself confronting on this trip.
The first few days were difficult. We were still mentally stuck in a different time zone, and we found ourselves traveling London in a daze. But even then, I found myself branching out little by little. On our first day, I tried raw fish for the first time, and not long after that, I bravely attempted the heights on the London Eye. Neither one of these events would have ever happened in the comforts of my own home, where I feel the most safe. Studying abroad brings out traits in you that you never knew you had, the bravery to conquer fears, the strength to pull your deepest emotions from you. It allows you to feel connections to the things that appeal most to you, to be unafraid of who you are. It’s an experience I’m never going to forget, and I know that I’m going to use the amazing perspectives I gained on this trip for the rest of my life.
Below is a photo of Diana, Mei,and I at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral – and all three of us are afraid of heights. It just goes to show that you never know what you are truly capable of.