My Study Abroad Action Plan

It has been two weeks since I’ve officially begun my study abroad exchange in Europe. When asked by friends and family “how is it, Kels?,” the only reply I can muster up is “completely surreal.” I’ll be living in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands for one entire academic year and this tiny portion in the beginning has already been a wild ride.

I’ve been anticipating this move since I got accepted to Erasmus University last April. And although I had also traveled to Europe before on a few family trips, neither the knowing nor my previous experience traveling could diminish how surreal it is to actually be here now. Is it possible to feel completely prepared to move across the ocean to study in a foreign city??? The answer is, it’s not. One day, you’re just gonna pack up and go, and the whole thing will feel like a hazy dream.

Months, weeks, days before I left, going abroad seemed more like a topic of my conversations rather than my reality.

Fast forward to the present. As I’m writing this, I’m on a train from a short trip to Amsterdam and Germany (shout out to the beauty and efficiency of European transportation). Staring out the window into the green landscape, loose euros and train tickets in my pockets, it hits me.

“Oh %$#, I’m here.”

Thinking about how I had just said my goodbyes to America, I see my friends at State begin their new school year: snap chatting Hepner Hall, BCB coffee between classes, live music at the Union, the vibes of the Thursday Farmers Markets and of course, those add/drop deadline emails.

“Oh %$#, I’m really here.”

The realizations come in waves. I look around me now and can’t help but feel fascinated, anxious, grateful and excited. All at the same time. In short, I am a bundle of emotions.

Mushy emotions and all, I’m really dedicated to making the most out of my opportunity to study abroad. Shamelessly quoting Drake, YOLO— You only live once. So because YOLO, in celebration of YOLO, living, breathing, and embodying YOLO … I’m going to do just that.

My YOLO action plan involves many things, but at the top of my list is to foster my guileless curiosities. My curiosity is the driving force of my desires to travel the world, connect with people, experience new things, be creative and educate myself. Curiosity with other people leads to a deeper understanding and unexpected, beautiful friendships. Curiosity in places leads to getting lost in the best way and stories to look back on. Curiosity in groups and cultures leads to senses of community and belonging. Curiosity with yourself opens your world.

These past two weeks, though short, have been driven by my curiosity. A wild, hilarious, unforgettable, jerky and amazing ride. If it weren’t for my curiosity, I wouldn’t have danced all day with the Dutch at an Amsterdam Music Festival, learned to say “cheers” in three different languages, ridden on the back of a bicycle through the lights of busy city nights or connected with interesting and extraordinary people from all over the world. And it’s only been two weeks. If you have any doubts about taking the opportunity given at State to study abroad, I can vouch that these doubts will be crushed by the experiences you create.

Kelsey Deguia is media studies major. She will be studying at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for the 2016-17 academic year.

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