Tales From Abroad: Embracing the Cliché Aug28

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Tales From Abroad: Embracing the Cliché

Study Abroad changed my life. Cliché, I know, but it’s nigh impossible to come up with any other way to put it. This semester has been a strenuous, wonderful, exhausting, and exhilarating experience. I have been constantly challenged, and had to adapt and grow in ways I didn’t feel possible before this semester.

 

Studying abroad was more than a vacation- make no mistakes about that. Every trip had a purpose, every interaction a learning opportunity. There was always a way to grow and change, always the ability to be better. You didn’t have to take it, but doing so made it all better.

I didn’t always take advantage of this, but I got much better at is as the semester went on. I don’t have much space to let you know, so I’m going to try to condense this entire life-altering experience into just a few words. Let’s do this.

At the start of the semester I had limited experience with interstate travel no experience with inter-country travel, much less intercontinental travel. I had never been thrust so into another culture, never really felt like the outsider. To be honest, I was so nervous about this semester. I mentioned several times in the written assignments leading up to this that I would not be able to predict how I wanted to grow, because I had no frame of reference. Even now, I find it hard to pinpoint anything, but here’s a short list of things that I’ve learned.

 

  • A grasp of the span of History. Through our bible classes and places that we’d visit that have so much history behind them, I grew in my understanding of just how important the past is. We can’t just shove it aside, and we shouldn’t. We’d visit cathedral after basilica, ancient pubs and even more ancient hills. We’d climb fells that many others have climbed before. So much has happened in these exact places, and these places that were important to them gained importance to me.

[Climbing the fells in Grasmere, within walking distance from William Wordsworth’s cottage. Featuring Jake Buller on the right. One of my favorite spontaneous adventures.]

 

  • An understanding of my relatively narrow cultural experience, and having a firmer grasp on how important broadening that is. While I had always seen myself as a relatively open-minded person, I was not in many ways. Considering different ways to do everything is never something that I was good at, but here even the ways in which we use utensils are different. They don’t scoop with the indention in the fork – rather they use the bump to put the food on. It makes no sense to me, but it’s how they work!

[Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain. Seeing these massive structures made for worship was something that I was definitely not used to – the idea behind worship here has historically been so different from how I have worshiped all my life. I was speechless when visiting this basilica in particular.]

 

  • A wider idea of just how much language shapes culture, and culture language. About how the ways we talk about things change how we think about things. The trip to Spain was the major player in this, although learning French and visiting Paris were both also quite impactful here. Seeing the ways in which others interacted in other languages was so fascinating, and discovering the differences between them was just so fantastic.[Taken in Versailles, Paris. The sheer opulence of the palace was stunning, and I even ended up translating some of the plaques lying around. Seeing just the way that language could be used differently while making use of it here was so cool. ]I learned a lot more than that as well – from various lessons on community to lessons about investing time in places that won’t last forever. I learned about being vulnerable and about how social interaction works. I’ve learned to question more than I’ve ever had before. I feel like a different person – grown, matured, and more ready to face an ever-darkening world. And that, my friends, is a brief glimpse as to how Study Abroad changed my life.