By Brittney Durbin
Well guys, this is it… My last blog post for the MU Study Abroad page.
I have to say that I am quite sad to be done with my adventures, but alas, it is time for another bright student to begin his/her travels around the globe.
I have to admit, I chose to study abroad for a full semester just to get away. Sure, I had to complete a term (summer, fall/spring or academic year) for my international studies major, but my parents really encouraged me to do a summer semester. Needless to say, me being me, I decided to go the full semester route. Without a doubt, I think that it was the perfect amount of time. I feel as though after six weeks I would have wanted to stay longer, but a year would have been much too much time away from home. There were times, like Thanksgiving, that I really, really wished I could be home, but those rough times were outweighed by the great times.
I don’t want to diminish this point though: There will be days that you’ll want to go home. I felt really unprepared for those days. I think that a lot of people expect study abroad to be spectacular every single minute of every single day, but you have to realize that some days will be bad. Whether it be a holiday without family, or that you simply want to eat American food and sleep in your own bed, there will come a time that you wish, in that moment, you were home.
However, this should not keep anyone from going abroad, because you gain so much. The places you go, the things you see and the people you meet make it all worth while.
Within the past five months, I have been in five countries: the United States of America, Spain, England, Germany and Austria. If I had stayed at Mizzou, or just gone abroad for a summer term, I guarantee you that I would have never made it to all five places. I would have missed out on the opportunity to see Big Ben, or the Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria.
However, I have to say the things I saw cannot be compared to the things I learned.
I left America a very interdependent person. I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing, but as I embark on this last semester of undergrad, I think that it was time to be pushed out of the nest a bit, if you know what I mean. Living on a different continent gave me a new perspective on making decisions on my own, and especially on spending money. (That conversion rate is no joke.) Incidentally, it also proved how important it is to have a support system, and how much I really appreciate my loved ones. Like I talked about on my Thanksgiving post, it took being more than 5,000 miles away from my family to see how much they do for me, and how grateful I am for them.
Living abroad also reminded me of how great I have it in America, and more importantly, how I need to be more thankful for what I have. I had a rude wake-up call when I arrived to Spain. For me, one of the most annoying and difficult parts of living abroad was public transportation. In London and Munich the subways were fine, but in Alicante you had one option: the bus. Oh, the notorious 24 Line that seemed to always be crowded or late. The thing is though, I only had to tolerate it for four months, while the people who live there ride it whenever they need to go somewhere. Also, on a more serious note, many homeless people roam the streets of Alicante, and many others are without jobs. I was not expecting to see how much the economy of Spain was struggling, and how it affected it’s citizens.
Without a doubt, I can say that the visit to Dachau was a top five life-changing experience. Perhaps to some this sounds extreme, but if you have been to a concentration camp, or any other place of evil, you understand. There is no way you walk out the same as when you walked in. It makes you appreciative for the very breath you breathe in, makes you grateful for the life you have and the times you live in.
One of my favorite childhood characters, Winnie the Pooh, once said, “Goodbye? Oh no, please can’t we go back to page one and do it all over again?” I have to say that in this moment, I wish I could. Being back is wonderful, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences abroad for anything. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
To my parents, Cecil and Jeannette; my sister, Nickole; my boyfriend, Zach; my wonderful new friend, Kelsey; my adviser, Miguel Allyon; the MU International Center as a whole; those who sponsor the George C. Brooks scholarship; and many others who shaped my study abroad experience, I want to say, “Thank you.” Without you my time abroad would have been completely different, or perhaps not even a reality.
You each helped to give me the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to have the world at my fingertips.
Until next time.