It has been a little over a week since I arrived to start my four month study abroad adventure. Here’s the lowdown of my first week in a new country!
One thing about study abroad that can be overlooked is the connections you can make with other students. Exchange programs, like mine in Germany, allow you to make quick friends in your new home.
Looking back on four weeks in Finland, I can confidently say that studying abroad was one of the best decisions of not only my college career, but my life. I explored places I never expected to see, I took classes that just aren’t offered anywhere else, I met new friends from both SDSU and around the world, and I had the time of my life. So, why were there so many tears the last week?
Though I am still in Europe, my time in France has come to an end. The semester ended two weeks ago, and I am finishing up my last bit of travels as I write this. It is now time to start thinking about transitioning back home after a full year abroad. Home feels so foreign now, and I have very mixed feelings about returning. I am almost more scared to return than I was to go abroad in the first place.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Last week, as I was walking around Macau with some fellow exchange students from Portugal, we were discussing all the cultural things of Macau. Macau used to be a Portuguese republic not 20 years ago, and they had a lot of fun facts for me to learn.
Greetings from Macau! I want to start this post by reviewing some of the complications I faced while coming to my exchange program. First, I was stuck in Seattle, as one of my connecting flights in China was canceled. Even worse, I couldn’t get the flight company, Juneyao Airlines, to book me a new fight nor give me a refund! This forced my hand to pay 1.5 times as much as I originally paid just to ensure I would arrive in Macau on time from Seattle, taking a rather large chunk out of what little I had saved/borrowed for going abroad.
As a San Diegan living in the Netherlands, I realized this study abroad experience is my first encounter with a real winter. I’ve been in the snow, but this would be my first time in it for the long haul. So, like the sun lover I am, I pounced on the idea of warmer weather and booked my New Year’s Eve trip to Lisbon, Portugal with a group of friends. According to lonely planet, Lisbon is the No. 2 spot in Europe to celebrate the New Year.
Thanksgiving was just little over a week ago. It feels weird to not spend it with your family since it’s such an important holiday for any American. But if you’re lucky you can share that especial holiday with especial people.
Since my time here in England is coming to an end, I feel a great deal of pressure to take advantage of my last six weeks. I’ve booked flights and train tickets to several other countries in order to make the most of my study abroad experience, but one thing I really enjoy doing is just staying at my university and spending time with the friends I’ve made here.
Even though Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here in Germany, I was well aware of the approaching date. The biggest reminder was when I FaceTimed my family, and my younger sister said that they were already on Thanksgiving break. This was my first Thanksgiving away from my family, and I didn’t know what to make of it or how to feel. As the date approached Thursday I was beginning to feel a little sad – a little empty.