In just a few days, I will be departing to begin my new life in Europe for the next five months. After reflecting on my college experience in America, I wanted to think about some of the main things I would like to learn during my time abroad that will allow me to view college from a different perspective. I would like to share 10 goals that I have for myself during my time overseas:
#1 Become an expert on my host city
The city that I will be living in is a college town of approximately 92,000 people. I cannot wait to see what new discoveries I will make. I have been researching the city and I will be thrilled to visit all of the beautiful churches, museums, botanical gardens, and other tourist attractions. I also plan to become involved in campus life to allow me to meet more locals, to absorb the historical significance of my city, and to grasp the meaning behind their culture.
#2 Learn how to cook
Quite frankly this is something I needed to improve upon before I left for Europe, but that didn’t quite make it to the top of my priority list. Unfortunately, I will no longer have the convenience of Ms. Linda cooking in the Phi Mu house or walking to the Campus Center to grab a quick bite before I go to class. This adventure will require me to visit street markets and grocery stores to select the ingredients I need, and of course, I will have the pleasure of cooking it myself! There are no meal plans at my host university. I’m excited that this will force me to do my own cooking. It is about time I learned. Time to get domestic!
#3 Make new friends
I love meeting new people and I look forward to learning about my new foreign classmates. At my university, I will be living in an international quarter, which will allow me to meet students from all over the world. My study abroad program also paired me up with a “Belgian Buddy” who attends my university and we have already been exchanging messages for about a month (She rocks!). I found that this is one of the best ways to learn more about another culture and appreciate everyone’s customs and unique identities.
#4 Travel to at least seven different countries in Europe
I have quite the bucket list of countries and cities I want to visit. My goal is to travel to at least seven other countries in Europe. With the convenience of the European transportation system, this should not be hard to do. I’ve done my research and learned how to jet set throughout Europe on trains and low-cost airlines like Ryanair, easyJet, and Wizz Air. Our world has so much to offer and I cannot wait to jump right in!
#5 Personal growth
I have been doing some reflections on the transitions that have transpired over the past few years and how I have grown as a person from high school to college. It is amazing the things you can learn about yourself when different challenges are thrown your way. I have learned to persevere through the struggles and stay focused on how to achieve my goals. I am looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and discovering even more about myself. I hope to discover what it is that I am most passionate about over these next five months while I am surrounded by new people, places, and things.
#6 Succeed in European higher education
The European education system is quite different from the small-private environment I am accustom to at my college in the United States. I am going to have a lot more freedom and not near as many day-to-day assignments. I will have to be sure to keep up with my reading during the week and during my weekend travels. I am excited to be thrown into a new territory and I am going to try my best to learn about my professors. I will go above and beyond the required material so that I truly understand the content I am learning and become a better critical thinker. I will be taking courses in business, communication, and European society. I look forward to recognizing the differences between European and American Universities when it comes to different perspectives on teaching and learning.
#7 Enrich my taste buds
Yes, I am a picky eater and I wish I wasn’t. Believe me, I have tried and tried and tried all different types of crazy food, but I just can’t get my taste buds to cooperate. Although, I will always try new things before I decide I don’t like them. I believe food deserves a chance. It’s a good thing I’m going to the world of potatoes, waffles, chocolate, and beer because I will most definitely indulge in those delightful foods, but I am open to trying new European cuisine as I travel to different countries.
#8 Learn a new language
I will be surrounded by Dutch, French, and German speaking people in the area I will be living in, so I am hoping to pick up the basic conversational language. I wish I would have taken the time in high school to become fluent in another language, but unfortunately the American education system does not put a very big emphasis on this. Of course, I cannot become fluent in five months, but I would love to carry on a basic conversation.
#9 Budget my money
Traveling can be expensive, I’m not going to sit here and act like I live in a fairy tale world where it is “cheap”, but there are ways to budget your money to make it much more affordable. If you are currently in college, and want to explore the world, studying abroad allows this time of your life to be one of the most affordable opportunities to go! So don’t wait around, make an appointment with your study abroad director. I promise you, it will be worth it!
#10 Gain a greater appreciation for other cultures and their customs
I believe traveling is one of the best ways to educate myself outside of the classroom. The world has so much to offer and that is why I intend on exploring it! I want to immerse myself not only in my host-country’s culture, but in others as well. The final countdown to departure begins!
P.S. “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” ~Anonymous