The broadening experience of traveling outside the United States is one that I truly believe everyone should have. Not only do you get to see a lot of fun sites and have adventures in a far away land, but you learn so much about how different life can be from the one you were living before. You set yourself out there and become more open to hearing the stories of others, you want to know what makes it so different. I would wake up each day and ignore the jet lag, so I could taste the British air and find a new breakfast place. Every time I visited a new location I got engrossed in its history and culture. Even traveling from place to place on the London underground was an adventure that I enjoyed without fail. I loved being in a new place, and for a time, everything seemed to be so much better than home.
However, after a bit, you find yourself missing little things that were only present in your home country. Breakfast doesn’t taste the same, the trees aren’t as friendly and sometimes you feel like an outsider because your voice sounds so different from everyone else’s. You miss your friends and family, a lot. The excitement of traveling abroad almost makes you forget you might get homesick. Honestly, it’s hard. Having so many awesome experiences in a new place without those you love the most is difficult.
“When you put these two opposing ways of thinking together, you find yourself able to both love everything new, while also appreciating everything you have left behind.”
However, when you put these two opposing ways of thinking together, you find yourself able to both love everything new and exciting, while also appreciating every familiar thing you left behind. I found myself appreciating my family even more. I began calling them because I wanted to know how everyone was doing, not because I felt like I had to out of obligation. In general, I found myself more open, I wanted to be more positive, respectful and welcoming of new experiences even when I eventually came back home. I wanted to get the most out of the time when I was in England, but I also got so excited to get back home and share all my wonderful discoveries with the people I loved.
Additionally, I got a lot closer to my classmates. Before going to London, I knew maybe one or two other physics majors, but after this class, I found that I had a whole network of friends within my major that I could now talk to between classes and get help with homework and studying for tests. We had all experienced traveling through another country together, but also taking a challenging class and staying up late into the night studying and doing homework.
“I wanted to be more positive, respectful and welcoming of new experiences even when I eventually came back home.”
Although, the idea of studying abroad can be a little intimidating, everyone should do it. It doesn’t have to be a whole semester; my class was only a few weeks over the summer. The experience gave me many new tools to face my classes in the future and provided me with a priceless cultural experience.
Parker Kendall is a third-year student majoring in physics. ✉ PK870248@wcupa.edu.