ISEP student Blue C. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is an exercise science major from Marshall University, and is currently studying abroad at the University of Chester in the United Kingdom.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect studying abroad to have much of an impact on who I am. I knew I would see beautiful places, meet unforgettable people and try plenty of new things. I had faith all of those things would happen - and they did. I figured I’d just come back to the U.S. and be the same old Blue. I don’t necessarily think that studying abroad or immersing yourself in something completely unknown will change who you are, but from my experience, I think it makes you appreciate who you already are. Here are a few things I have learned about myself during the last four months I have spent abroad.
1. I like being alone
I think being alone often has a negative connotation. I remember spending countless hours as a teenager, not yet old enough to drive, complaining to my father about how bored I was. I couldn’t possibly be 13 years old and alone. I had to have been the only 13-year-old girl in the world not with her friends right then. I was all alone and the idea of solitude was almost unbearable. In high school when I worked 40 hours a week in the summer and played sports during the school year, I couldn’t stand the time I spent at home with “nothing to do.” Even in college back in the U.S., I’m always busy, working, going to school, sleeping or eating. I came to England, where I was unable to work legally and I didn’t have a single friend. Basically, what 13-year-old Blue’s nightmares were made of. Suddenly, I was forced to spend time alone. It was sink or swim, make the best of it or be miserable. What I discovered was that I actually love being alone. I enjoy traveling alone and going wherever I want. I like just sitting in my room sometimes, listening to music. I like going to the gym alone and not talking to anyone for a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some incredible friends and I’m not just sitting in my room alone watching movies and eating ice cream all day (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The point I’m trying to make is that rather than avoid being alone, I’ve embraced it. I think that’s pretty wonderful. I was listening to a song earlier this month and sort of smiled when I heard the lyrics: “You have no right to be depressed, you haven’t tried hard enough to like it.” I’d say I’d tell 13-year-old Blue that now, but knowing me, she wouldn’t listen.
2. I know how to save water
I avoid doing laundry at all costs. I do know how to do laundry - I have done a lot of laundry during my 20 years on this earth. I’ve spent countless hours in a laundromat adding 34 quarters to the machine because my clothes still aren’t dry yet. In Chester, I don’t have a car and I live on campus in a dorm. Whoever decided to put a college dorm a million miles from the building with the washing machines and then charge nearly five pounds to wash and dry one load will forever hold a special place in my heart. Not only do I have to walk a solid 15 minutes to get there, but I look like I’m moving out every single time I do laundry because I carry it in my suitcase. I’m telling you this because I have discovered that I have a knack for making my clothes last as long as possible. Have I bought underwear and socks to avoid doing laundry? Sure. Have I hand washed shirts I like in the bath tub? Definitely. Do I do homework in order to talk myself out of doing laundry? Certainly. I don’t wear dirty clothes, but I do know how to make the clean ones last. Don’t go feeling bad about yourself, you can save just as much water as I do if you really want to.
3. I can adapt
I realized that I was finally adapting to culture here yesterday when the woman at the checkout counter said “cheers,” and my immediate response was not to smile awkwardly and walk away. Never did I think I could naturally use “cheers” as a form of thank you, but I did it. I looked that woman right in the eyes and said it as I smiled, naturally. Not only that, but I generally know what people are talking about when they’re speaking to me. Common vocabulary I use includes: “to be fair…” “waved” and “chips” instead of “fries.” I remember arriving and thinking there was no way I would ever be able to make sense of things here, especially the people. Granted, heads still turn when I’m walking down the street talking, but that’s unavoidable. I can successfully hold a conversation and if you heard me the first week I was here, you’d know that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. I’m certainly not saying that I blend in, but life here has become normal to me and I’m pretty happy about that.
If I can adapt to living in another country alone while saving water, there’s really no telling what I can do. Get to know yourself, you may be surprised.
Are you ready for your own adventure? See all of your study abroad options on the ISEP website.
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