Thursday, December 29, 2011

The "Returning from Studying Abroad" Effect...

Just one and a half months ago, I was on a four month adventure studying in & enjoying all that New Zealand had to offer, while still getting a chance to kayak and explore Australia, and I even got to meander through Beijing and Shanghai, China. It was an explosion of energy combined with curiosity that unfortunately or fortunately may have been that 'once in a lifetime' sort of opportunity.

Before leaving the United States of America, I was warned that when returning, I may not feel at home, and may become seriously depressed. I'll be honest, I got anxiety often while abroad, thinking of how awful it would be to feel that way when I returned, since I would be going home in just a short four months... a moment I looked forward to, but at the same time, was afraid of the consequences. 

Fast forwarding to today, I don't feel depressed at all! I do miss all the people that I met along the way though... in fact very much so! But you have to understand and realize the opportunity you just had! Whenever I think about all that I did, I just smile. I miss the landscape of New Zealand, the wild nature of Australia and the surprise and excitement that awaited at every corner in Shanghai & Beijing. I miss putting together international weekend travel adventures in New Zealand, meeting crazy Kiwi's who would often do something you would never expect a human being to do, and those professors who you were supposed to show respect to, even though they were barefoot and had no socks on... both in the classroom and in their office... while sipping on a beer.  The kangaroo who was more than happy to shake my hand, the koala that cuddled with me in front of the camera, multiple, friendly chinese people who bought me green tea just to hear me speak english... and then a chinese scam artist who tried charging me a couple hundred dollars at a tea house... It's all a part of the adventure! How could I be depressed about all these things. Yesterday happened, today is now.

If your thinking about studying abroad, don't think any further, just do it! I have had a countless number of people tell me they either wish they could have studied abroad when they were in college, or they would like to, but are not sure how to do it, or they are simply scared. If your in college... no matter what year your in, go for it! Some College Students simply cannot study abroad, such as Nursing Students. If your a Freshman, Sophomore or Junior, I'd say definitely work on it... NOW! Although I did not include senior year, it doesn't mean its not possible, it would just be a challenge. In fact, I plan on studying abroad once more in Senior Year!

Remember, studying abroad is not just about partying... save your money for traveling and sightseeing. Take your classroom work seriously, but don't forget that sightseeing and learning about the culture is just as important, if not even more important. I did well in classes, but not as well as I would have if I was back at my home university- University of Rhode Island. One reason was because I was in a different hemisphere, I had to take classes that were one semester ahead of me... so rather learning with students who were first semester Juniors, like I was, I was with students who were second semester juniors, so it was a real challenge. But the other reason was because my professor actually told me to spend most of my time meeting new people and learning about the culture. I passed my classes, I met people from more than eleven different countries, travelled to three different countries, partied, made lifelong friends, learned about what I'm aiming for in life, and am still on track to graduate on time. In fact, I spent the same amount of money that I would have if I would have stayed at University of Rhode Island... perhaps even saved money, since I had no car or gas expenses. That's only a part of the magic that comes along with studying abroad. Now go for it! 

Hiked Australia

Rode on the Bullet Train (200+ MPH) from Shanghai to Beijing

Climbed the Steepest Street in the World- Dunedin, New Zealand
Made Lifelong Friends! Kaikoura, New Zealand