Provided by ellieejay
My first international class in Guatemala, followed by a semester in
London, then a semester in Granada… and what do I have to say for myself?
I’ve learned nothing.
Contrary to popular belief and folktales told by previous students who have
studied internationally, living abroad for 5 months does not make you a
world expert or even a world traveler. Needless to say, I’m not an
exception either by living abroad for a year now.
Nearing the end of my time in Spain, I have come to understand the world is
and isn’t. It’s huge in the sense that there is a place for everything.
It’s small in the sense that I’ve run into people from my small high school
in Burlington, Illinois at a hostel in Bucharest, Romania. It’s beautiful,
but there are also ugly parts as well. It’s hard to describe the world as
one word without the contrary of that word being true as well. For example,
you can say the world is always changing, but then again the sun will
always come up, people will always need food, shelter and water, and we
pretty much all just want to be happy. The world is and isn’t.
Studying in a country where I barely knew the language when I first arrived
taught me to be prepared for anything. More importantly, it taught me that
you don’t always need to know the plan in order to function. Many times in
life we enter situations with a set plan for everything which helps us be
efficient and maximize our outtake. However, when it falls through we have
no back up plan and we’re left scrambling for ideas. It’s a great exercise
to practice entering situations with no plans, no strategy, just an open
The reason I say I’ve learned nothing is as follows: To say you have
learned something implies you have finished the act. Living abroad has
opened up how massive the world is and how much there is I don’t know.
Telling you about what I have learned is easy- nothing. I have learned
nothing but I am learning little pieces about everything. The main thing
college taught me is how learning is a life long-process. While I am
nostalgic I’ve graduated college, the best part is that I learned that
learning never has to end.
Humility translates. When my fellow classmates return home and act like
they know all about the country they studied in for a few months,
everything about the countries they visited for one weekend, everything
about international travel and living abroad – that is the exact opposite
thing they should’ve taken away. Not even Einstein would say he knew
everything about physics. When people ask you about your time abroad
approach it with humility and honesty. Share your personal stories and urge
them to create stories of their own. This is the reason I became a study
abroad ambassador- to share nothing but my truth and get other students to
experience the world as I did in their own way.
Overall, I’ve taken away every single experience is what you make of it.
Life will serve you hard times, but you will learn the best lessons about
yourself during these moments. What you put in is what you get out. I’ve
cultivated a mindset uniquely my own in which I will carry with me for the
rest of my life and share with as many others as possible. Namaste!
Originally posted on ellieejay’s blog