Hello again! It’s been awhile, but I think it’s about time that I sit down and really reflect on the time I was able to spend studying abroad in Grenoble, France. I arrived back here in the states at the end of December, and there hasn’t been a day that’s passed without me thinking about those four months in which I was able to fully immerse myself in a new culture, a new experience, and a new way of life. Looking back now, I can really appreciate my time abroad, and reflect on everything that I gained.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.”- Jerzy Gregorek
It’s been two weeks since I arrived home to the cozy embrace of the PNW, fifteen days since I was in Europe, and three-hundred and sixty hours since I had to pay for public utilities. My time in the land of castles and good bread has come to a bitter sweet finish. (insert sour dough joke, I’m sure I’ll think of something.) I took a whole lot away from these wild escapades, but it’s hard to put into words the exact extent of what this time meant to me. I’ll try though, for you, mom.
Some of the biggest takeaways from this experience were visiting so many cities in Europe, making new friends, growing as a person, being out of my comfort zone and learning from that, living in a different culture and gaining new perspective on home and my life.
Winter quarter has officially started at Western, and it has been 17 days since I said goodbye to Lyon.
I remember clearly, the feeling of waking up at 4am getting ready and calling a cab to pick me up from the Kraków hostel I was staying at, of how drowsy and half asleep, yet serious I felt. I remember walking into the cold morning air, into darkness, and feeling a light breeze. I remember the ride to the airport which seemed like it lasted forever. I remember eating not one but two Paczki (Polish donuts) as I was waiting for my flight, savoring the last taste of my culture and homeland.
My mom, my sister, and I have a tradition whenever we leave somewhere we love. Regardless of the temperature, we go into the body of water we stayed near and dunk. Then, when we depart later that day, we go home with the lake or seawater in our hair. It’s our cheaper—and chillier—version of souvenirs. We did it last week when we left Lake Chelan, I did it the week before on a road trip to La Jolla, and I most certainly did in Ireland, thanks to going cliff jumping in Howth the day before my flight. Other souvenirs of my study abroad program in Ireland are much more long-lived, like the tiny black sheep on my desk from the Sheep and Wool Centre in Connemara, my Claddagh ring, or the bags of Tayto microwavable popcorn (which I should probably eat soon). Heck, even msn still provides me with Maynooth weather forecasts instead of Bellingham.
Now that I’ve been home a few weeks (didn’t mean to wait this long for my final post…oops), I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my time spent in South Africa. I”m just going to respond directly to WWU’s prompts for this post because I feel like their questions address everything I want to talk about pretty well.
Photo: Boulevard Park; Bellingham, WA; July 4th, 2017
Postcards From Africa
A Year Later
I often look at my Facebook feed and can’t believe that it’s been over a year since I first arrived in Seoul. It feels like only yesterday that I took hundreds of pictures with my new and adventurous friends. I often feel like it was a dream because the whole experience was surreal, and the only thing that reminds me that it really happened is the fact that I’m still paying for it a year later (that and all the pictures). Thinking about going back makes me feel nervous all over again for the same things I was nervous for in the first place, but then I have to just laugh at myself because nothing was ever as big of a barrier as I expected it to be. I thought the language barrier would be scary, and if anything it’s nice not knowing what everyone is talking about all the time. I miss the experiences I had in Korea and I miss being able to experience something new every day.