These past four months went by so quickly. I’m so thankful and appreciative that I got a chance to partake in this study abroad experience. It was definitely one of my most wonderful and worthwhile experiences in college. When I reflect about my experience, I think about three main themes.
1. Travels. I have seriously never traveled so much. Outside of Scotland, I visited 10 countries and 11 cities. These cities included London (United Kingdom), Brussels (Belgium), Dublin (Ireland), Munich (Germany), Paris (France), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Rome (Italy), Budapest (Hungary), Vienna (Austria), and Innsbruck (Austria). I definitely had the travel bug this past semester, and I just want to continue to see more of the world in the future.
These are some of the coolest places I visited.From top left and moving clockwise: Innsbruck from the top of the alps, Amsterdam, Vienna Christmas Market, and Munich.
My top two favorite places that I visited were Budapest and Barcelona. Why? Budapest was the cheapest place I visited in Europe. You could get a good meal for 5 euros (much less than the 10 euro meals I had in other European countries). I would also describe Budapest as having the beauty and charm of London and Paris with nicer people and a more old-fashioned truly European feel to it. Plus who doesn’t love fun “ruin” bars and public baths? Additionally, I enjoyed Barcelona partly due to the fact that it had the best weather out of all the places I visited in Europe. I also appreciated the outdoor markets, the parks, and the really nice beaches. Take a look at a couple of pictures of these two cities. Pretty amazing right?
There are seriously so many places in Europe that are breathtaking and make you say “WOW.” During the semester, I learned to appreciate museums, history, and even classical museum (thing I had previously considered “boring”). For me, I also realized that the key to enjoying traveling is to take a step back and just take it all in. When you focus too much on trying to fit as much as you can in one day and planning the perfect trip, you end up being disappointed.
2. Friends. I met some great people while I was abroad. Since the University of Edinburgh has a strong international student presence, I made friends from countries around the world such as Sweden, Poland, Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. While there are many cultural differences between my new friends and myself, I also learned that people are more similar than you think. At the end of the day, I truly believe that the key to making friends to be genuine, be nice, and be accepting of others.
These are some of the cool people I met. From top left and moving clockwise: Viktor from Sweden, Alex from Poland, Sophia from England, and Marco, Luigi, and Dario from Italy.
In addition, I feel like my abroad experience made me gain a greater appreciation for my friends back in Austin. Coming into college, I already knew many UT students from back home. That is what coming from Plano will do to you. Additionally, being part of a structured organization like ABSA as a freshman made making friends even easier. However, when I was in Edinburgh, I didn’t know many people and I didn’t have an organization to fall back on. I had to really put a lot of effort into making and sustaining friendships. I would be extremely proactive in getting groups of friends together and planning dinners and hangouts with my new friends (something I really didn’t do that much at UT). To a certain extent, I realized that I took many friends back at home for granted. As I near the end of my college career, I am determined to put a lot of effort into my friendships and just be a better friend.
3. Personal Growth. One of the greatest things about study abroad is that it forces you to step out of your comfort zone. Whether that means cooking for the first time, climbing what seems like an insurmountable mountain, or learning the ins and outs of a completely unfamiliar city, study abroad really tests your patience and your persistence.
When things don’t go the way you had hoped, do you quit or do you keep on trying and pushing on? Study abroad really does teach you about these things. After this experience, I am more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. While I am a very adaptable person, I can also be too idealistic and have too high of expectations when it comes to many things. Being abroad taught me to temper my expectations and just let things happen instead of always worrying about the outcome.
My time abroad also made me realize that I tend to be someone who seeks out others and naturally enjoys being around people. However, during the past four months, I also learned to enjoy things on my own. I did some traveling and exploring of cities by myself, and I realized that I don’t always need to be around other people in order to enjoy the world around me.
This has truly been a semester to remember. I believe I am a better person because of it.
Until next time Edinburgh.
I’m ready for you Austin.