During my trip to Brussels, I and my friend decided that we would stay for one night and do all of the touristy things that Brussels is known for. We tried chocolate and fries, we saw the Grand Place, we went out for a night, and we took long walks around the city. Throughout the entire duration of the trip, I was constantly on the go and I never had that “Aha moment” when I realized that I was on a trip in Brussels eating chocolate and fries for dinner with no worries at all. This is because I felt like I was so busy planning how we were getting places, what route to take, and how long we could stay at each place. I was more focused on the logistical aspects of the trip. Because of this, I feel like I never stopped once to take it all in. Something that I wish I had done more of during my time abroad is taking time to smell the roses.
When you’re abroad, you’re going to want to do so many things, and you will feel like you’re completely running out of time as soon as the second month hits. You’ll be going out in different countries, trying new food, sprinting to class, and making new friends. All of this is going to feel normal after a while, so you’ll stop putting in as much effort into taking pictures, practicing gratefulness, and romanticizing your time abroad. This is normal, and this is what happened to me but now that I’m home, I truly wish I had taken even more pictures and saved more videos of me and my new friends out and about. I wish that during my home school’s annual homecoming, I hadn’t felt so homesick, and I realized that I was abroad in a different country, making so many new memories. I wish that I had said yes to all of those spontaneous dinner dates with my friends and taken more opportunities to create new memories while I was abroad. Of course, I’m incredibly grateful for the experience that I had, but I now wonder what my study abroad experience would have looked like if I had taken more time to smell the roses.
Now that my study abroad is over, my advice is that you should never let study abroad become too normal because it is not. You’re living in an entirely different country for consecutive months without your family and you’re becoming a part of an entirely new culture with an entirely different group of people, and you’re witnessing incredible new things every day. If you let it become too normal you will miss out on pictures that your family will think are really cool because you’re too used to it. Therefore, my advice is that you continue to be constantly aware of how much of a gift studying abroad is because many people will never have the opportunity to go abroad for consecutive months to study. Most importantly, take it all in, smell the roses, and be grateful for where you are.
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My name is Alicia Strader and I am currently a junior at Fordham University. I am an International Studies major and I have a minor in the French language. I enjoy reading, socializing with my friends, and trying new restaurants.