After 15 weeks in Dublin and 3 more weeks traveling around, I am officially saying goodbye to Europe as I return home. The whole semester feels a bit surreal and like a fever dream, really. It’s a bit of a crazy feeling when a week ago I was climbing the steps up to the Prague castle and now I’m sitting in my childhood bedroom.
Studying abroad was never a question of “if” for me, but rather a question of “when.” For so many years now, it’s been the biggest thing on my mind and the thing I’ve been looking forward to the most. So, now that it’s over, I feel like I’m staring college graduation right in the eyes.
However, instead of focusing too much on the future, I’m trying to reflect on the past few months and think about what I can take away from all of my adventures. From all of this travel, I have two main takeaways.
My first takeaway is that we are all far more alike than we are different. In the past 18 weeks, I have traveled to 11 different countries. The majority of these countries were non-English speaking and come from very different histories, cultures, and backgrounds than that of the United States. I traveled around central and Eastern Europe, places where I had an idea in my head that they were extremely different from Western Europe and the U.S. To be honest, though, I really knew nothing about these places and expected them to be a bit scary to experience and adjust to. However, I learned time and time again in every place I traveled to that it was not scary and different; instead, I found very kind people, amazing places, and delicious food everywhere I went. There were still people living in these cities, starting families, and simply existing. I think that this was the biggest reality check for me. Being from the U.S., we are definitely instilled with a sense of living in the “best country in the world.” However, I quickly realized that we are not the standard of living and the world is full of amazing places with amazing people. At the end of the day, every place is full of people who are just like you and I, trying to find their place in the world. This was a very comforting lesson for me as I no longer felt like an outsider in these new cities.
My other takeaway is that the world is waiting for you and it is not going anywhere! It definitely feels like there is pressure to get out and see everything that you possibly can in your 3 months abroad. But this is not true!! Europe and the rest of the world will still be there a year or even 10 or 20 years from now. Take your time and explore the country you’re based in and spend more time in other places to see more than just the center city. You can always come back and see everything else that you possibly can.
Overall, the best advice that I can give is to take the leap of faith and study abroad! It seems a lot scarier than it is and it can give you the best memories that you will cherish forever. There is so much of the world to see so get out and see it!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi! My name is Maya Reiser and I am studying Psychology, Sociology, and Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. I am studying abroad this Spring in Dublin, and I can't wait to share all of my experiences. My favorite thing in the world to do is travel anywhere I can go. The best memory I have while traveling was watching the sunset on a bridge over a river in Tuscany, Italy.</p>