“Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value.” –Louis L’Amour
Sharing experiences and knowledge is how people can learn from each other. Everything from tying your shoes to scientific discovery knowledge, is gained through people communicating and sharing their experiences.
So who am I to think my experiences will be worth sharing? Well, I started out life in Uniontown, Pennsylvania and I’ve spent most of my time growing up in upstate South Carolina. I have simple, typical “guy” interests (cars, bikes, sports, etc.). I pass my time by going to the movies, hanging out with friends, and watching Netflix. I like food too much to pick one solid favorite, and in the long time battle of cats vs. dogs I’m definitely a dog person. Up until last fall, I had never even been outside the United States. So really, I’m just an ordinary guy.
The main factor in my decision to study abroad was the stories from friends who had already done it. Hearing about all the trips, various mishaps, and genuine friends people made abroad left me wanting the same experience. The common theme among those friends was how much they had grown and learned from their time abroad. While visiting my girlfriend at the time in Copenhagen last October, I got to see a sample of what life outside the U.S. was like. After that trip I started seriously pursuing studying abroad for myself. Fast forward almost ten months, and I’m days from flying to France to start the biggest adventure of my life (so far).
Side note: when you’re getting ready to go abroad, make sure to get all the requirements done as early as possible! That’s a good rule of thumb for most things in life, but is especially important for the study abroad application process. I waited until the last minute on a few things, and while it wasn’t a really a big deal, it was still stressy. So spend your time right before you leave with people you’ll miss most and getting excited for your semester abroad, NOT on last minute requirements!
As far as packing is concerned…….uhhhhh, ask me again tomorrow. Cue stuffing as much as physically possible into my luggage and crossing my fingers it’s under the weight limit! But in all seriousness, it is a challenge to pack everything you might need for four months into three bags. All the advice I’ve been given on packing is pretty much “pack what you need, and nothing more”, so that’s what I’ll go with. Luckily, Nice’s mild climate means there won’t be much need for heavy winter clothes. But, it’s one thing to know what/how to pack and another thing to have it done. So, current packing status: working on it.
Look, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Living with new people in a new country (where you don’t speak the language well), and attending a new school is a tall order itself. And, despite living with roommates throughout my first three years of college, learning how to live completely independently is another ball game. Combine that with the language barrier and lack of familiarity with the city, and standby for a comedy of trials and errors. Despite the nerves, I am extremely excited to meet my new roommates, learn how to live “like an adult”, and get the semester started! The thing I’m probably most looking forward to is traveling as much as possible….or at least as much as my bank account will allow (googles ‘cheap flights in Europe’). Overall, my goal is to visit many places, but make Nice a home I can always come home to.
From what I can tell, life isn’t something that can be solved, “won”, or really even figured out to a considerable degree. It’s something that has to be lived (pun a little intended) to get the most out of it. True, you can learn a lot from other people’s life stories, but studying abroad is a story I’m ready to write for myself.
So why should my experiences be worth sharing? Well, no matter who I am, how I got here, what I pack, or how long I may or may not have procrastinated on submitting all the requirements (don’t hate me IES Abroad), this upcoming semester really is the opportunity of a lifetime. At the end of the day, I’m ready to take this whole thing head on. If me sharing my experiences and knowledge from the next four months can help someone else, or even have them learn something new, then it is more than worth sharing.
Until next time,