Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to study abroad for my spring semester. I’ve always wanted to study abroad. I’ve been planning to do this ever since I was younger because I love to travel. I’ve always wanted to explore different places and meet different people. I’ve been drawn to the United Kingdom for a long time and knew that’s where I wanted to go and study. I went back and forth on so many options but ultimately settled on Edinburgh, Scotland.
When I found out that I was able to study abroad, I was so excited. Something I’ve wanted to do for the longest time was finally becoming a reality. Gearing up to go was scary. It hadn’t hit me until I was at the airport waiting at my gate, waiting for the plane to come and fly me away from my home, family, and friends. I remember sitting at the gate and beginning to question what I was doing. Why am I going so far away? Why am I going to a place where I don’t know where I am? What if it is not worth it?
These doubts began to fill my head, but as soon as I landed, they quickly went away. When I met people in my program, I recognized that maybe this was not a bad decision after all. We all realized we were in the same boat, in a random country where we knew not a single soul, we instantly bonded with each other. I went out of my comfort zone and did things I never thought I would ever do.
One thing about Scotland is it is very cold. I went in the spring, which means I lived there from January to late May. I am from Louisiana, where it rarely ever gets below 40 degrees. Before I went to Scotland, I bought my first ever winter coat and boots. On my first day of class, it snowed in the morning and the roads were icy. You best believe I was slipping and sliding everywhere trying to get to class. I even remember going up to the Scottish Highlands and I had to stop hiking midway through. The tour guide asked me if I was good, and I said: “I’m from a place that is below sea level, this is a very rare situation for me”.
I was out of my comfort zone and trying to navigate through living there. Obviously, I had moments where I was missing home and friends. Thankfully, technology and the internet has come so far and I was able to talk to them. However, I learned how to be more independent of myself and learn how to be by myself. I even went on a solo trip to London by myself and navigated through a big city.
I traveled to different cities and countries with my friends. I went to places like Ireland, Spain, and Germany. I went to twelve different countries. One of the contributing aspects of studying abroad was because I wanted to travel. I remember saying to myself that I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to do something like this in the future, so why not give it a shot.
I remember the day that we all said goodbye to each other. It was crazy how fast it went by. I felt like we just got used to being there and adjusting and then next you know, we are leaving to go back home. It was so weird to say goodbye. Coming back home and adjusting back to it was hard. It went by so fast.
The classes I took were very interesting. One of my favorites was I took a Scottish Literature class. I was able to read books by Scottish writers that gave me an inside look at Scottish history. I remember being in my seminar with other people and being the only American. I did not understand the history, unlike my other classmates. Edinburgh itself is a city filled with so much history. The fact I was able to see a castle outside my apartment is something I never got used to.
I learned so many things about myself while studying abroad. I know it is a really cheesy thing to say, but it was honestly such a life-changing experience. The person who I was last year, is not the same person that I am now. I went out of my comfort zone, I traveled to different countries, and I became more confident in myself as a person. I stood up for myself and realized things about myself I never knew. I made many friends that I considered my best friends (which is crazy because we’ve only known each other for less than a year).
Studying abroad was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Although I was scared at first, I found a new confidence in myself I never thought I would ever have. I’ve met new people and explored different places. I had ups and I had downs, but it was so worth it. I would go back to Edinburgh in a heartbeat and do it all over again with the people I’ve made along the way. This experience taught me to do things that can be scary to you. I’ll forever cherish the memories I made when I was abroad.