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Conscious abroad reflection

| Thursday, January 17, 2019

What did you take with you?

This is the question I wish people would ask when inquiring about the experiences of those returning from an abroad program. Too often I hear unchallenging questions like “how was it?” Questions like this are often followed by a glorified account that too often mirrors the superficiality of social media. Everything was “perfect,” “amazing” or “so fun.” While this very well could have been the case, these words are usually associated with experiences involving wild partying, visiting tourist attractions without a concern for historical significance and tendency to remain within the “Notre Dame bubble,” among other things. 

When you took those shots for Instagram, did you truly take in what you were seeing? When you explored the city, did you take time to delve into its vibrant culture?

When you partied with the locals, did you take a few moments to try and understand who they were as a people?

These are just a few of the questions I would propose to my peers and myself.

My intention is not to ridicule or make one feel bad, I myself was guilty of surface level behavior while abroad. My hope is that those returning make the conscious effort to understand how their experience abroad changed them. What about living and learning in a foreign country allowed you to grow and mature in a way that you couldn’t have experienced here on campus? What are the ideas, feelings and perspectives you’d like to share with the main campus community? What did you take with you?

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

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