how my semester abroad changed me, by EB
This article is written for yooou! by 17-year-old, EB.
Erika here again! Something you may not know about me is that I studied abroad in Switzerland for the first semester of my sophomore year. In this post, I am going to share a little about my experience: new passions I discovered and things I learned about myself.
I made the decision to study abroad at the beginning of my freshman year. Though a lot of things changed once I entered high school, I knew that I wanted a bigger change in my life–– something completely brand new. Two of my neighbors growing up had also studied abroad in high school, and their positive experiences inspired me to take the jump.
So flash forward to September of 2019. I was so excited to leave, so much so that I think my excitement overthrew any nervousness I was having. But my excitement faded the first few days and turned to homesickness very quickly.
I was confused because I didn’t normally get homesick whenever I left my family; I had gone to camp for a month before and never felt a longing for being back home.
Looking back, I don’t think I ever realized just how big of an adjustment I was going through. I went from rooming with just myself to rooming with two other girls; I was living in a new place; I was adjusting to a new time zone and schedule; I was participating in demanding physical activities each day; I was meeting completely new people and teachers. It was a lot, and I didn’t really realize how much it was going to be beforehand.
The remedy to my homesickness ended up being one of the simplest: time. It took me time to adjust to everything, and once I did, I began to fully take advantage of and appreciate every aspect of my experience.
I found a love for hiking that led me to try out backpacking a few years later (read about my experience here). I learned how to ski, which in result got my whole family back into skiing when I returned. I loved my Art History class that I took so much that I signed up to take AP Art History this year in school.
But the best part of my experience were the friends I made. I had gone to the same school my whole life, so I did not have too much experience in going somewhere new and having to make completely new friends. Again, it took time to get to know everyone, but there was something in our shared experience that bonded everyone together and eased some of the awkwardness of making new friends.
I know it sounds cliche, but my semester abroad changed me, and I am forever appreciative for the experience and those who made it possible. It introduced me to some of things I love the most now; it helped me discover things about myself as a person and as a student.
Most importantly, I learned that it takes time to accommodate to new things. Because with patience, you are truly able to get the most out of an experience.