Outside of My Contexts: My Firsts While Abroad

Emma Ropski
December 12, 2015

Studying and running have very strongly characterized my life from my teenaged years on, which left myself little room for trying new things. These two activities have had to take more of a back seat this semester as choosing to go abroad was not really about academics or athletics; it was about experiencing new cultures, participating within them, adapting, and exploring. I have also always been a member of tight-knit communities, which has had many amazing advantages, but one downside is that the comfort that they provided me meant meeting new people and forming close relationships with those outside of these groups didn’t happen very often, if at all. This very goal-focused life and contentment within my close groups combined with little travel experience and a more or less sheltered life meant that, due to being removed from all of these contexts, I’ve had a lot of firsts while abroad which I wish to share with you. Many of them may seem a little ridiculous and not very exciting to put on a “first” list, but they are included because they are quite honestly firsts for me.

Thanks to study abroad I have, for the very first time:

  • gone somewhere for an extended period of time knowing absolutely no one

  • been told I have a Midwestern accent

  • been outside of the U.S.

  • been on a flight by myself

  • been on a transatlantic flight

  • seen and climbed mountains

  • not worn a winter jacket in November

  • swam in salt water

  • lived in a big city

  • drank a full cup of coffee

  • had my first (and last) pint of Guinness

  • gotten a professional massage

  • run a 10k race

  • danced at club

  • licked a stamp

  • sent a postcard (ten, to be exact)

  • heard Catalan spoken

  • had my name been confused for “Inma”

  • tried to use a porron (and failed miserably #winestainsfordays)

  • helped make a casteller (albeit a very short one)

  • kissed most people that I’ve met… twice ;)

  • had my clothes dry outside of a nine story apartment window

  • been to a professional fútbol game

  • seen ANCIENT buildings

  • walked on cobblestone for hours

  • been pleasantly surprised to receive free water in a restaurant

  • couch-surfed

  • slept in a hostel

  • been in five different countries within thirty days

  • flushed a toilet with a light switch

  • watched two break dancers practice in an airport terminal

  • had a stranger buy me a drink at bar

  • had the table next to me unexpectedly pay for my lunch

  • been on a date with someone I just met

  • navigated a labyrinth

  • seen and walked on a volcano

  • walked a mile home, uphill, in four inch heels, at 3 A.M.

  • been in a traffic jam with a herd cows

  • seen a wild boar

  • pet a stray cat

  • steered a sailboat

  • thrown up on a sailboat

  • been awake for 40 hours straight

  • seen a drag show

  • made my family’s stuffing recipe by myself

  • poured orange juice into my cereal on accident

Being completely transplanted through study abroad has shown me new things, taken me to new places, and connected me with new people in ways I could have never expected. I am extremely grateful to have been able to have the opportunity to be pulled out of my context and everything that is familiar to me to bravely face the unknown and have some fun along the way.


More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Emma Ropski

<p>Hi all! My name is Emma Ropski and I&#39;m a senior sociology and psychology major at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I am a middle distance runner on the track and field team there and love it to bits. My interests include the sociological imagination, thrifting, lifting, daytime judge shows, and gorditas. I am so excited to share my study abroad experience in Barcelona with you!</p>

2015 Fall
Home University:
Hope College
Explore Blogs