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Study Abroad Adventures: The Beginning

Study Abroad Belgium: Two days before departure.

This is my first blog post – ever – and also the first post of a series of posts that I will write as I venture into Europe as a foreign exchange student. My name is Hillary Stevens, I am a sophomore at Appalachian State University, and I will be studying at Howest University in Belgium for the next six months.

The nerves have set in. I don’t fall asleep until 3 a.m. because I’m pinterest-ing all the things I need to pack, so therefore I don’t wake up until 1 p.m. the next day – leaving me lazy and unmotivated to do any of the things on my list that I had wrote out the night prior.

Speaking of packing, how do you pack your entire life’s contents for six months into one big bag that has to be under 50 pounds or you’re charged extra? Riddle me that, Lufthansa Airlines. And what does one wear in Europe while trying to “blend in” as a regular Belgian citizen? All of these questions add to the mounting stress of travelling to a foreign country, much less living there when all I know how to say in their language is, “My name is Hillary.”

Don’t get me wrong; I am very thankful and very excited to go on this adventure. But what if they don’t like me? What if I’m just the chubby American girl who dresses funny? How am I supposed to get from the airport to my town via train then to my apartment? It’s all so stressful and scary that I think instead of facing it and making a plan I’m more of avoiding it (hence the sleeping in until 1 p.m.).

As a sophomore in college, I have yet to declare a major. I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life; I don’t even know where I want to be in five years. I don’t even really know what things I enjoy, or want to accomplish, to try to start in the right direction. I hope that this experience allows me to learn so much more about myself and about the culture I live in at home so that I can decide what kind of things I enjoy or the kind of work I want to be involved in in the future.

Despite all my nerves and the hopes I have for my experience, I am mostly thankful. I am thankful that this opportunity has come my way and that I have the resources to follow through. I am thankful for my amazing friends and family who have supported me and helped me through every aspect of this journey.

So, for now my room is a mess, my bag is empty, and I haven’t even started on the laundry. I’m making progress though, with every pin on Pinterest describing what to pack, and every list in my phone of what not to forget, I’m getting there. Hopefully in my next post, I’ll be all settled into my apartment in Belgium and getting ready to explore.

Until next time,

Hillary S.


(P.S. I'll add more photos for the continuing posts!)






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