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SMC students return from study abroad

| Wednesday, January 16, 2019

From the streets of Seville, Spain; Rome, Italy; and Ifrane, Morocco, a wave of Belles have returned home to Saint Mary’s this week. Despite the snow and ice, many Belles say they are happy to be back.

Sophomore Cassidy Miller said she always knew she wanted to study abroad, but it was not until she heard from a Belle who had spent a semester in Italy that she knew she wanted to go to Rome.

She said the hardest part about coming back to campus was the overcast and frigid temperatures.

Besides the language barrier, Miller said the hardest part about studying abroad in Rome was doing her homework.

“It’s a lot busier, because there’s a lot of people in the city — not that they’re always in a rush or anything, but there’s always things to do, a lot of shops and restaurants,” she said. “It was a different experience for me to try and finish schoolwork while still trying to experience and see everything in the city. When you’re here [at Saint Mary’s], you do your schoolwork and then go back to your room. There, I was sitting in my room until I realized that I should be out exploring things.”

The best part about studying in Rome was her proximity to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, Miller said, and that there was always something to do in Rome. However, coming back to campus has been difficult because she has to find more ways to keep herself occupied, she said.

“Living in Rome, there’s something new to do everyday,” Miller said. “Here, I’ve been trying to find some things to do in order to keep myself busy so I don’t have so much downtime that I start to miss it.”

Junior Sophia McDevitt, who studied in Ireland last semester, said sharing her study abroad experience with her friends was difficult at first.

“The most obvious challenge to me was that all my friends had met all these new people and so many relationships had subtly shifted and I had missed it,” she said. “I suddenly showed back up and had to figure out everything that had and hadn’t happened, while also digesting what I had just experienced.”

McDevitt said opening up to fellow Belles who did not or will not study abroad was also challenging.

“I knew a lot of my friends had wanted to study abroad, but because of their scholarships or their majors they couldn’t,” she said. “So, I wanted to make sure it didn’t sound like I was bragging when I talked about the Spanish friends I made at dinner in Alicante or how beautiful the Swiss Alps were or how I loved sitting around and talking with my European friends from all different countries. Instead of talking, I found myself holding it all in.”

But McDevitt said once she started sharing her experiences abroad, she found students were interested and encouraged her to open up more.

“Once I started sharing, I was reminded that those who care about me cared about hearing what was on my mind,” she said. “Now, I find myself sharing random tidbits more often as things pop back into my head.”

Although the weather may be dismal, the friendships may have shifted and the days may be monotonous, Miller said the best thing about being back on campus is reuniting with her fellow Belles.

“Coming back can be a little bit scary because you do get so accustomed to the culture over there, but as long as you keep yourself busy and have supportive friends, that makes the transition back to campus a lot easier,” she said. “There’s comfort in the sisterhood here.”

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

Contact Gina