I know quite a few of you (mostly my mom’s friends) were looking for more posts throughout my semester abroad but when midterms rolled around, I decided it would be better to focus on stressing out about finishing Schmidt’s papers rather than a blog post. So here, I hope to offer some perspective after being home for a little bit. But first, a recap on what I didn’t write about.
The last time I posted was right after Brussels. What I skipped between Ukraine and Brussels and coming home, was visiting Siena, Naples (hands down my favorite city in Italy), Pisa, Lucca, #springbreak2k16 with Brendan, Brussels, Brugges, Amsterdam, Paris (my favorite European city), a class trip to Normandy, meeting up with the fam in Venice and showing them around Florence, Barcelona, an authentic Italian soccer game (Firenze won!!), multiple hikes gone wrong, Prato Campus Week, conversation exchange, some very eye opening lectures, finals, the farewell dinner, and the sad trip home. I’m sure I missed quite a bit in that list but I’m sure you get the idea. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, I will get my act together and do some posts of photos.
Over the past 4 months, I have met some amazing people and made unforgettable memories. It was an incredible experience and I would give anything to go back and do it all over. Obviously, I was going through some major diner withdraws and was in desperate need of some good old, unhealthy American food. It was crazy to be able to experience such a different way of living and not just while on a short vacation. It was eyeopening and I’ve learned things about how Europeans live that I definitely want to apply to my own life. Like I talked about a little bit in my post about Brussels, Americans live in an undeniable bubble. This doesn’t just apply to terrorism and war but also in culture. We are very set in our ways and how we do things and oftentimes are unwilling to change. Going abroad has definitely altered my life and perspective on the world and I think it’s important for everyone to grow in this way.
Culture wasn’t the only think I’ve learned about. I have changed a lot mentally. Before going to Europe, I was very doubtful of what I was capable of and not really believing that I could do something like this. Even after just a few weeks in Italy, I could already see how I was growing as a person. I could barely get from UNH home to Jersey on my own but now I know that I can travel to a new country in a different freaking language. I’ve also shown myself that even as an anxiety ridden person, I can go in to a new experience not knowing anybody and come out of it with some of my best friends. There are about a million other small, less obvious changes that I can’t even describe. Overall, I’m just a happier, less anxious person and I’m unbelievably grateful to be able to have grown with such a life changing experience.
Now, while that’s all fine and dandy, the most difficult part of going abroad is the part that nobody talks about: coming home. I missed home and all, but now there is just a constant want for adventure, exploration, and learning that Berkeley Heights just cannot fulfill. The only people who can understand the struggles I’m having since leaving Europe are the people I went abroad with. It’s like I can’t relate to my friends from high school as much anymore but I’m the only one who realizes it. I think it’s important to explain this because it’s not what people want to hear about when you tell them about your semester. It’s almost like torture being home, without something to do this weekend, new restaurants to try, people to meet, and cities to explore. It’s quite lonely in a way, just last month I saw all of my friends every single day of the week and now I can’t see anyone with just a knock on the door down the hall from mine. We changed together and it’s mentally draining not to have anyone to joke about my experiences and struggles with and just have them understand.
Sorry about the wordy post, but I think that’s enough for now. I’ll put some photos below but will definitely post some more for each city soon. Also, I thought I’d note that over this summer, I am going to try to post somewhat consistently about topics other than Europe.
My Last Post: Brussels