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Dear Study Abroad

Dear study abroad,

As I write this, I am exactly two weeks out from this amazing journey from being over. How did these last four months go by so quickly? I am here to write a letter of appreciation to all the lessons that I learned and my own personal growth that I experienced during this adventure.

The first big lesson that I learned was that although I am young, I am more capable that I give myself credit for. College, especially for first couple years, is this weird in-between of being a dependent to being an adult and it can lead to a weird state of not being 100% sure of yourself all the time. I found throughout my freshman year that I would lean into my parents for a multitude of things and although they were always more than willing to help, I had a lack of trust in myself. Being thousands of miles away from my parents where there was a nine hour time difference between us I found that I had to trust myself more than I had before. I had to make fast decisions, figure out problems, and deal with a language barrier on a day to day basis. It came down to simple tasks like getting a SIM card and changing my class schedule, but I no longer have the desire to always get their opinion and advice. I had to trust my instincts and use my own problem-solving skills and even when I doubted myself, I have had not bad experiences, nor have I had trouble fixing my own problems on my own. I know find myself making choices and decisions all on my own without even thinking about addressing my parents for advice. I have gotten locked in hostel rooms in the middle of Spain and almost been left in Florence due to a ticket mix up and I always found a way out. I am way stronger and knowledgeable than I gave myself credit for. I have realized that I am old enough to care of myself and that my instincts are now rooted in real life experiences that I can trust.

Next, I have learned the value of memories. Prior to you, I knew the importance of adventure and fun memories, but abroad is a whole new level. I learned to appreciate every moment from my walk to the metro in the morning to riding a camel in Morocco. Every little moment holds a more special place in my heart due to the fact that I know this will never happen again. Looking back at high school and even freshman year, I now realize that I let days go by without valuing the lessons that I learned throughout the day and the small moments that can simply pass by. I come back to the States with the intention to be intentional. To make memories, work hard but also have fun, to value the small things and not let days and weeks pass me by without reflecting on the lessons that I am learning and the memories, good and bad, that I am making. Every moment in this life is a chance to learn and a memory to keep.

My last big lesson was the importance of friendship. I have made friends here, whether old or new, that are irreplaceable. We have experienced things that no one else has and I have become sisters with the girls that I live with. I have experienced first-hand that sometimes the people that you love the most can annoy you the most. I have learned how to get through fights and come out the other side saying, “I love you.” I have laughed harder than I ever thought possible. I have cried in their arms and learned that life would be miserable without good friends. Without you, abroad, I am sure that I would have never made such a solid group of friends and encouraged me to stay in contact with my true friends that are at home.

Abroad, you have taught me more than just these three things and I am sure that for years to come I will still be learning from this experience. Thank you for all my laughs,

memories, and lessons. I can’t believe you are already almost over, but I know that it is time and I am coming back to the States a better person. For you were just what I needed.


With love,


Kateryna Gehlhaar is a junior nursing student at St Louis University. She enjoys exploring new places, reading romance novels, and having dance parties with her friends. one of her greatest passions is taking photos in her free time! She is so excited to be a part of the Her Campus chapter this year and to share some of her own stories and adventures.
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