Two weeks ago, I got on a plane in Lisbon for my journey back home to Oceanside. My time in Portugal was short and went by so fast, yet we did so much in such a short period of time. It was like a double-edged-sword, I was sad to leave yet happy to get home to my family.
The flight back was long and gave me time to reflect on my trip; our schedule was so packed that, at times, I only had time to react without time for reflection. If I had to pick one part of my trip that was truly outstanding it would be the opportunity to get to know people from different parts of the world and see how they live and view themselves as part of the global community. I also had the opportunity to learn how they view us as Americans and I was surprised that many don’t think of us as I had expected they would.
The pace in Portugal is much more relaxed than in the U.S. and no one is in quite the same rush as we are in America. More time is spent interacting as a group during meals as opposed to everyone sitting around staring into their iPhone.
The food was amazing and natural, not processed, and no growth hormones are used. I ordered a 1/4 chicken in a restaurant and was very surprised at how small it was; It was then I realized it was raised without growth hormones. I’m not a huge fan of desserts — at least I wasn’t until I tried a Pastel de Nata, a custard filled desert that was originally created by monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in the 18th century. If you ever get the chance to try one, I assure you won’t be disappointed.
When I planned my study abroad experience I originally thought that one month would be a long time to be away from home; I now wish that I had planned on a whole semester abroad. I’ve heard from other people that once you go abroad you will develop a desire to see as many other places as you can possible see. I now see that they were right.
I always thought that I looked at the world and tried to consider it from everyone’s perspective, I now realize how limited my perspective was. The best way to learn another culture is to live with that culture and, even then, you only learn what they are willing to share with you. I was fortunate in that I met people from all over the world while I was there and they were very willing to share their opinions with me.
My decision to study abroad was one of the best decisions I have made in my education. I cannot emphasize enough how much you will gain by taking the opportunity to study abroad. Some may think that studying abroad is too expensive. I believe it to be an excellent investment in my future, both professionally and personally.
I have caught the travel bug and I now want to explore as much as the planet as I possibly can — not only to see new places, but more importantly to learn from the different cultures and people that make up our planet.
David McLean-Perkins is majoring in information systems. He is participating in a study abroad program to Portugal in Summer, 2017.