Where We’ve Been And Where We’ve Come

back drop Frands Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 1.54.46 PMIt’s so crazy to think about. When you leave home, you know not much will change when you come back. Your mom will still be there to make your favorite foods, your siblings will still be there to annoy you. Your boss will still hire you back, you and your friends will still be going to the same hang outs you’ve been going to since you were 17.

But in under a week when we all leave Prague, we leave the lives we made here. Never again will we be able to come back here and have the same amazing experiences with the same amazing people; who knows when we will come back here again?

The adventure we anticipated for months is now coming to an end. It feels like just last week we were landing in Prague from the States, that we were all just meeting each other for the first time, and trying to figure out which way was up in this country.

Thinking back on my short time here, my friends and I have definitely come a long way. Before I came here, I knew nothing about traveling. My first rude wake up call was in the JFK airport about to depart and having no idea how to go through security. What a hot mess I must have been, trying to rip off my shoes and dig through my backpack for my laptop as I held up the line.

And it didn’t end there, I came here and everyone was jet lagged and had no idea what we were doing. We probably spent a 30% of everyday those first few weeks lost or looking for some cafe. Trying to figure out the trams, getting on the wrong tram and ending up God knows where, it felt like freshman year all over again expect there’s no upperclassmen to show you the ropes and the language and culture is entirely different from what you’ve known your entire life.

A few weeks ago when my mom was here she was so amazed and constantly asking, “how did you figure this all out?” And “how did you even find this place?”

And then I realized how culture shocked I was, and how well I adjusted since. Now I can travel like a pro, I can speed up the security line now instead of prolonging it. I know the Czech I need to survive, and I mastered the act of hand gestures to communicate any other messages. I no longer need to walk into random places and hope it’s a good time, I know exactly where to go for what I want.

I think what I learned mainly from study abroad is that you will figure it out. I used to think people would just say that to me so I would shut up and stop complaining, but it always works out in the end. I used to be so scared about getting lost, and lord have I gotten lost, but I always found my way in the end. I was so concerned about not having a working phone to tell me everything I need to know, but now I wonder why I used to be so dependent on my phone in the past. Free wifi will be your saving grace at times, but relying on paper maps and planning ahead works just as well.

Nothing is as big of a deal as you think it is, it all works out in the end. Getting a bad grade isn’t the end of the world; in the end you’ll probably still do well in the class. You accidentally took $500 out of the atm, and TD bank charged you an overdraft fee of $100, it’s fine, at least you’re refund check is coming in the mail soon. Planning trips will work out, painful bus rides will eventually be over, and there is no reason to stress.

At pre-departure orientation they told us study abroad will change us and it will be hard going home, and I could not agree more. I feel like I still have so much more to learn, so many more people to meet, so many experiences to still have. I could have another two years here probably and still not feel content, still feel as if there is more to see.

It’s sad, but at least it happened. At least now I have memories and friends for a lifetime, a ton of culture under my belt, and a ton of new knowledge. I’ll never forget any of it, and there is none of it I would ever take back.

I could go on forever, but I’ll try to cut it off here. All I’ll say is studying abroad was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, and everybody should do it. There is no better way to learn about yourself and grow than by throwing yourself out of your comfort zone and straight into the fog. You’ll mess up, you’ll look stupid, but in the end it’s all worth it.

And I can’t wait to come back one day to mess up and look stupid all over again to see what else I can learn.

Anne, English major and Journalism and Environmental Studies minor, is enthused to spend a semester immersed in a different culture. She cannot wait to meet new people, visit new places, and share these experiences with others.

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