Hello from the other side of the world! At this moment, I’m right about here (See Map).
This post is the first of a three-part series that I am writing about my experience on England Semester. This post focuses on the Study Abroad Journey of Self-Discovery (*inspirational music plays*). I expected to learn quite a bit this semester, but I did not expect to learn so much about myself. Turns out, you discover a lot about yourself when you’re effectively thrown into the deep end of travel and expected to take care of yourself!
1. You’ll learn how you respond in stressful situations. To be honest, low-level stress is almost a constant companion on study abroad. Every so often, that stress escalates. Travel days often exacerbate things (a group of us got stuck in a random English city for a night once). In these situations, I learned that—through the grace of God—I have matured in my response to these situations (we managed to get back safely!). I would not have handled the stress of the semester nearly as well a year ago. While studying abroad, maturity is a requirement.
2. You’ll learn how much you truly love and need your friends. On study-abroad programs, the group needs to bond together to keep each other
sane having fun! Our group has connected quickly through movie nights, ukulele sing-a-longs, and eating way too much monkey bread together. Making new friends has been amazing, and I have enjoyed living together—it’s the only way you learn the weird things people eat for breakfast or how just how many cups of tea someone needs to keep her going. In addition, you’ll also realize how close you are with your friends on campus or at home. Though I’m not particularly pining away from homesickness, I still think about everyone “back home” almost every day. I’m so, so excited to come back next semester and be with them all.
3. You’ll learn more about your strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. Cliché, right? But it’s still true. For some lighthearted examples: I learned that I can choose great restaurants, that I cannot navigate my way out of a paper bag, much less a foreign city, and that I really don’t enjoy haggis (sheep intestines. Why, Scotland, why??). You will even find out about some quirky habits and catchphrases you have that you never registered before. (My friend: “You say ‘Oh my word’ a lot.” Me: “Oh my word, you’re right!”). In all seriousness, hopefully, you will also understand more about your relationship with God and what talents He has given you.
4. You’ll learn how to live alongside others. It takes great dexterity to live 24/7 with seventeen other people, especially when all seventeen of those people are trying to make their lunches in the same kitchen at the same time as you.You’ll learn how to keep certain things to yourself, while also making sure to affirm other people regularly. You’ll learn how to sleep through other people’s alarms. All of these skills are extremely applicable to your future life!
Yes, I really did try sheep intestines, and no, I haven’t figured out how to sleep through most people’s alarms. I’m working on it. All this to say: there really is something about studying abroad that lets you understand yourself more fully. England Semester is providing me with a healthy space to develop my strengths and to notice my weaknesses. Above all, I’m learning how to honor God more and more each day. And that is what truly makes this semester worth it.
Keep an eye out for Part 2