Chocolate and Laughter
What would I say to other students thinking about studying abroad? Do it! I can't predict what you will experience or learn if you choose to go abroad but I promise that you will have the adventure of a lifetime. I wouldn't trade my experiences from those six months abroad for anything. Between the people you meet, the breathtaking views, and the things you eat everything has meaning.
Personally most of the learning I did while abroad was outside of the classroom. Living in a different culture and travelling frequently gives you new insights and perspective about both yourself and your surroundings. I never found myself in a routine, because #1 - everyday was different and #2 - there was always something new that tested my personal limits.
#1 everyday was different - Learning to adapt to different ways of life such as: wearing a head-dress in Turkey, dancing and chanting on tables at a beer festival in Germany, living with someone of royal blood from Nepal, eating snails in France, and having no sense of time in Portugal taught me how to embrace other people and their cultural backgrounds. I found that by integrating myself into various cultures and experiencing different ways of life to be very rewarding. I often found myself thinking “Wow, these people really have life figured out“, from the way they ate to the amazing hospitality I received.
#2 pushing my own personal limits - By jumping off of 35 foot waterfalls in Switzerland, driving a standard car in France, being vulnerable to letting others get to know me, and not having my family and friends around were all things that I am very proud of myself for doing. These opportunities and experiences would not have happened had I not gone abroad and the lessons I learnt from them are something that I will carry with my for the rest of my life.
Knowing it was coming to an end was sad but it encouraged me to keep pushing my limits and soak in every adventure that came my way.
A couple last words of advice… embrace everyday for what it is and take it all in with an open mind. The food, the people, the liquors, the meaningful conversations, the spontaneous weekend trips, the questionable (but safe) decisions, the over indulgence in chocolate and wine, and endless amount of laughter with strangers were all contributors to the most enriching six months of my life.
Read Victoria's full report (.pdf) on her semester abroad at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland in Olten, Switzerland.