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When I Realized Studying Abroad Was the Best Choice of My Life

October 24, 2016

If you’re interested in studying abroad there are a lot of things you have to prepare before your initial departure - choosing a location, submitting applications and fees, getting a passport and visa, budgeting your time and resources, choosing classes, and packing all of the essentials. Then comes the actual traveling, which for me took around 30 hours from my home in Indiana to my dorm room in Brno, Czech Republic. After finally making it abroad my first thought was, “Now what?” Then, “Where am I going to find dinner in this foreign country?”

I never did find a place to get dinner the first night. I went back to my dorm and chose to go straight to bed rather than eating the leftover airport food I had.

My first full day I went and took care of some necessary errands like buying bathroom supplies and food from the grocery store. I also got a transportation pass and took a city tour with another American, a student from Hong Kong and a student from Mexico. We went around the city center and it was beautiful and overwhelming. I didn’t remember where anything was afterwards. I met some people throughout the day and we returned to the city center that night only to realize we didn’t know how to get home. I spent three hours wandering around the city attempting to find my way back with three people I’d just met. It was frustrating and wonderful because I learned so much about the city and those people as we wandered the empty streets of Brno.

I got lost two more times the first week, once with a group of people and once by myself. Both times I found my way home - eventually.

It got easier even by the end of the first week. I figured out I always needed to take tram one during the day which comes every 10 minutes. At night, it’s bus 25 or 27 and those come every hour, on the hour. I started to find the confidence to venture into the city by myself. I traveled to Spilberk Castle in Brno on my first solo trip; it was only a 15 minute tram ride from my dorm. Then I went to the city center and found a quaint courtyard for the Mendelianum Museum with a stunning view of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. These two places were so unbelievably beautiful. I forgot for a moment I’m 4,107 miles from home. I forgot most people here don’t speak English. I forgot everyone uses the metric system, the 24 hour clock and a completely different currency. I forgot I’m supposed to be a foreigner to this place because I was starting to feel like I belonged.

Over the course of the first week I met so many wonderful people from the U.S., France, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Finland, Italy, Slovakia, Germany and more. I started to recognize people and places. I started to discover a new life for myself in this beautiful country.

It took just one week to realize I had made one of the best decisions of my life by choosing to study abroad.

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