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Vera Iwankiw
December 23, 2013

The last couple of weeks of study abroad just whirled past me. My last trip was to Paris in the company of the best friends a girl could ask for. We all went to Norway together and wanted our last trip to be together as well. We figured out the Paris Metro (which is not an easy task if you ask me), and saw all of the “Greatest Hits of Paris”- the Arc de Triomphe, the Lourve/Mona Lisa, Notre Dame, the Lock Bridge, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. We were fascinated by the Eiffel Tower and on our last night there, sat for hours just watching it light up every hour on the hour. The Eurostar ride back to London was a sharp reality check- we all spent the whole ride frantically studying for our finals the next day.

And then finals came and went. The “study” part of “study abroad” was finally over, which left just being abroad. We all took advantage of those last couple of day by hanging out with each other and visiting our favorite spots in London one last time. IES organized a final farewell tea for all of us to get a chance to say goodbye to each other; it was a beautiful event and I think made everyone realize how much they have grown while here.

My time in London was still not over though. My mom came to visit me for about a week before we headed home. I showed her my favorite spots in London- Westminster and Big Ben, St. James and Regents Parks, the South Bank. I thought it was a really nice transition back home (and it was great to be able to put some of the stuff I bought in her suitcases).

Now I am back at home. It is a bit weird to no longer feel like you have to see and do everything, but in all honestly, I was a bit tired anyway. I spent my first day back camped out on our couch, watching TV, which I didn’t really have in London, and eating food out of our cabinets. It was pretty glorious.

I do want to give out some advice at the end of my experience though: study abroad is not for everyone. I think there is this idea in our generation that everyone can and should study abroad, but you really have to be in the right mindset to embrace it. Don’t just study abroad because you feel like you should or because “everyone is doing it”- you have to want it. It not just a fun semester spent in Europe, you have to know how to manage your time, know your limits, and learn some street smarts. And be ready for some issues, whether they are homesickness, losing an important document, or doing poorly in a class. It was one of the best experiences in my life, and I would recommend that everyone do it, as long as they have the right mindset and realistic expectations of what it will be. If you feel ready, go for it, you won’t regret it.

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Vera Iwankiw

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I was born and raised in Chicago, where I grew up learning about my Ukrainian culture and language. I currently attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and am studying Human Development with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. I play on the university&rsquo;s club water polo team and synchronized swimming team and am active in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I have traveled internationally to Ukraine, Canada, and Mexico for vacation and Cape Town, South Africa for a service learning trip. In the future, I hope to continue my studies in law school, with the hope of one day practicing as a family law or child advocate lawyer.</span></p>

2013 Fall
Home University:
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
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