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Lessons abroad

| Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Study abroad: this experience will change your life. You hear this over and over again in every meeting leading up to that moment where you step on the plane towards the journey of a lifetime. I was definitely skeptical at first, thinking “these people are building this up way too much.” After almost three months abroad, I have to say I have learned some pretty important lessons. So here goes a shot at a list of my top three I will take with me as I return to the States in just over a month.

1) Confidence using public transportation. Raised in a small town with one taxi for public transportation, I had a lot to learn. No matter what environment you grew up in, nothing can prepare you for some of the crazy situations you may find yourself in. After asking complete strangers for directions multiple times, chasing the airport bus down as it pulls away and receiving glaring looks because you stood on the wrong side of the escalator, things settle down and you really begin to get the hang of navigating a plethora of affordable methods of transportation. The elated feeling of arriving at your intended destination never really goes away. As for those times where you end up somewhere completely opposite of where you wanted to go, it only adds more to the adventure.

2) You can never have enough Nutella. Seriously, this is God’s gift to chocolate lovers everywhere. I certainly enjoyed this wonderful concoction in the States, but in London where everything is double the price, Nutella is a real game-changer. Completely acceptable at breakfast, lunch and dinner, this spread pairs perfectly with everything from toast to fruit to the Peeps everyone keeps receiving in their Easter packages. Our flat now has an 11-pound (and I’m not talking about the currency) jar that we are determined to finish before the end of the semester.

3) If you want to really get to know someone, travel with them. I swear you learn more about a person from a weekend of adventuring than a semester as a roommate. As you can probably imagine, this is both good and bad. I have made some of my best friends through traveling with them on weekends. I mean, nothing says friendship like sharing the pain of a 6 a.m. flight departure time. More importantly, you all share in the experience of feeling completely lost for 24 hours and transforming into “city natives” by the end of the weekend … or so you think.

These lessons may not fall under the category of “life-changing” (except number 2), but in all honesty, I have grown so much as a person and have made lifelong friendships. Like anything else, you get out of it what you put in. Take advantage of every opportunity and never be afraid of exploration. Cheers!

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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