As my precious time living in Europe comes it’s halfway margin, I have to say I have learned so many valuable life lessons just not necessarily the ones I thought I was going to learn. For instance, the amount of time I have spent alone is something I never took into consideration when filling out abroad applications. I am truly by myself over here. No friends from home. No family. Just me. This is what I chose. I wanted to be on my own, I just didn’t realize the severity of what this actually meant…
That being said be prepared to learn about yourself. How you handle isolation. What are the tactics for fighting homesickness? Some prefer solitude. That is their way of coping. Others, myself included, socialize. They escape in the night by exploring pubs, dancing in the popular clubs until the early morning, meeting new people, trying local drinks, and collecting truly genuine people on the way. Have us night owls been sleeping? Not so much. But that is our method. Everyone is different so whichever way you choose to handle this aspect of being abroad is completely up to you.
Personally, I have never cooked a proper meal or picked up a mop in my entire life. The tables have turned because now I have learned to prepare numerous easy to make meals (well anything I can boil or grill), properly clean my living space, and do loads of laundry at the same time (well maybe not all at once but you get my drift). I have become domesticated. Gentleman callers shall be lining up at every street corner! I must say it’s liberating to be able to cook and keep a clean living space, this is a funny aspect about being abroad that no one really mentions. I have had access to pre-prepared meals my entire life. From my mom cooking most nights to being on a meal plan with food always available. It’s nice to be able to make things for myself.
Another amazing trait about being abroad is the fact that most other countries are a quick plane ride away or a few hours by train or bus. Abroad students can take a two-hour bus ride and be standing in different country. Traveling in Europe is so easy and inexpensive that it’s nearly impossible not to go somewhere. Quick and spontaneous trips are the norm and make the experience even better (didn’t think that was possible). Ask anyone abroad and they will tell you, it’s a great luxury to be able to go somewhere new within an hour or so. However, being away from “home” makes you appreciate your abroad country and be bias against all others. Whether it’s paying ridiculous amounts for one drink at a bar in Paris or that nasty plane ride fee to see London, the differences between countries is very clear especially when it comes to prices. Don’t let this hinder travels plans, just be ready to spend many Euros in certain luxurious countries or tourist destinations.
As Halloween quickly approaches and I see my newsfeed clouded with all of my friends celebrating this incredible holiday, dressing up for the next two weeks in cute outfits. Things are a little different here. Halloween isn’t as big of a deal. So instead of two weekends of identity shifting, I will probably only dress up on actual Halloween and go to a place that acknowledges its existence. It’s strange only having one outfit planned.
Being abroad is incredible but not always as glamorous as it may seem. Be mindful to the good and bad about this commitment. But I will say all of the good moments out weight the bad by a long run and I will never forget them.