I told you the heartbreaking secrets of a study abroad student in my last article "4 Things Nobody Tells You About Studying Abroad", but I didn’t include the touching stories of people finding themselves or their badass adventures. What is it really like? Living abroad?
Just for you, my readers, I interviewed 6 INCREDIBLE people that are from (and currently) all over the world to get the inside scoop of living in other countries, and everything that goes along with it. Check out the stories and photography of travelers Kim, Yok, Tori, Ben, Ally and Kristen.
Kim is from New Jersey and spent a year, let me say that again for the people in the back, a YEAR in Graz, Austria. She loves to practice her German and travel when time allows.
She’s currently there now and worked against the time difference to bring her story to us!
“One of the things I'll never forget is being in Berlin on New Year's Eve and having to dodge fireworks because people were shooting them off in the middle of the street!”
Hahah (that sounds like my worst nightmare)
Me: Traveling is a life altering experience! In what ways have you changed?
“I've become a lot more outgoing and flexible. I've definitely become overall more calm and self-confident. And of course, I've developed an addiction to traveling!”
You can give Kim’s blog a read to follow her adventures for the remainder of the year at kim-talks.blogspot.com.
Yok is from Thailand and studied abroad in the U.K., but she has traveled literally all over the world!
Yok is an incredible photographer and has a wickedly good sense of humor.
Yok explained her biggest problems for us, which I both found relevant and amusing:
“Weirdly, I struggled to use things up before the expiration dates. I could not manage the groceries. I never knew that bread would expire within a couple of days and they always turned greenish and I had to throw more than half a loaf away. Or I struggle to cook a "normal" [sized] meal because I have to fit everything that is about to expire in the menu.”
Which led us to find the best book in the whole library at Uni…”Microwave Cuisine”. Truly an art of the lazy gal’s guide to cooking for one.
Me: “What is something you did that you would not have done had you not been studying abroad?”
“Fall in love…”
Ugh my HEART.
Tori is from the sunny sunny Florida state and I’m very very jealous. She studied abroad in Bournemouth, U.K. and decided to share her experiences with me. Tori had been to England multiple times before, and plans to move there this summer for work.
Me: “What is your favorite memory of studying abroad?”
“It wasn't so much of a specific memory, more like a time. My Easter break in the U.K. was probably the happiest time of my life. I got to go to Ireland, and it was the time I felt I truly belonged in that country.”
When asked what her experience was like returning home, she was so bashful. Really shy. Beat around the bush.
“It was like being ripped from my real life and thrown back into this hot, mundane prison where nothing had changed. It sounds dramatic, but it was honestly the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It felt like I was trapped.”
As you can see, she was thrilled to be home.
The likelihood of her moving to the U.K. for permanent residence? Um…..astronomically high.
Ben is from Pennsylvania and was able to spend the semester abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. During his time abroad, he explored 18 different cities, the majority of which he tackled by himself. A true adventurer!
When asked what his greatest struggle was, Ben talked about the infamous adjustment period:
“At first, I found it difficult to adapt to the new culture and way of life in Prague, but over time I was able to adjust.”
New culture, new time zone, we feel your pain Ben! As it so happens, Ben also has a gorgeous eye for photography- take a look!
Here are some more photos from his excursions.
Ally is from my adopted homeland as I like to call it, the U.K. Ally studied at my university in New Jersey, a semester before I met her at her university in the U.K.
How funny is that? Ally is a communications major like me and one of her favorite things to do was roam around New York City. The food, the people, the music, the sights, what’s not to love?
Ally opened up to us, explaining her hardest time away from home.
"While on semester abroad my dad was diagnosed with cancer and it was very challenging to hear that news and to realise that I will not be physically there to support him during his treatment."
Ally still managed to make the best of her great adventure though. Something she did that I personally thought was very cool, is when she interviewed various people in NYC for her blog, including the homeless population.
Very nice Ally!
You are most likely to catch Kristen sporting Mickey Mouse ears at Disney World than to be anywhere else. Kristen comes from NJ, but flees to Florida whenever the opportunity arises. She took on a bigger adventure last spring semester and I got to know her when she lived across the hall from me in uni in the U.K. Small world.
Kristen traded in her iconic mouse ears for an epic adventure of 8 countries in 5 months. One of her favorite memories being jumping off a cliff in Switzerland to paraglide.
*It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh wait, it’s a Kristen!*
At the end of it all, life is what you make of it, and study abroad students are usually the ones that tend to learn that the fastest. Thank you so much to everyone I spoke with and helped make this project possible. I hope that each one of you gets to experiences your dreams, like these students did theirs and try new foods, snap beautiful pictures, and take risks. Remember, everyone is alive, but not everyone lives...make today the day you lived.