I am overwhelmed with emotion and feel extremely blessed for all of my experiences this summer. Getting on the plane leaving England was harder than I thought. Although I have missed my family and friends, I feel like a piece of my heart is left in New Zealand, Greece, and Oxford, England. I have learned so much about different kinds of life and how different people can be across the world. However, there is one thing that unites everyone universally, and that is kindness and the
joy that laughter brings. At every place I have traveled, I have been able to learn about different cultures and the smallest nuances of the people. In New Zealand, I learned to appreciate nature more and take care of it. In Greece, I saw the pride that the people had in their country and in themselves, and their confidence rubbed off on me. And I can’t say enough about outdoor classrooms!
Lastly, in Oxford, I felt completely at home but also like I was living in a fairytale while learning the simple pleasures of afternoon tea in a garden, swimming in Port Meadow after class, and making friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. Maybe the most important thing I learned overall was to be present in every moment. I know I will carry these treasures with me throughout life and look back with fondness on all of these experiences.
The main things I am happy to see back in the U.S. besides my family and pets are ice and air conditioning!! It has been a long time since I’ve seen a cup filled to the top with ice in a cold AC-controlled room, and I love it, especially in this hot Alabama heat. I almost feel spoiled by it as I am accustomed to an open window and a fan. Although this is a nice luxury of the U.S. that we take for granted, it should not scare people away from traveling to new places. My biggest piece of advice for future students who want to study abroad is not to be afraid to try new things and experience the culture. Do not go on a trip with a closed mind, be happy to at least try to fit into the culture and see why the locals like it. Also if you struggle at some point during the trip, no matter why you struggle, just try and laugh about it!! It is so much more fun when you can laugh at yourself if you messed up or found yourself in a new and possibly comfortable situation. Be happy, explore, and talk to the people around you!! Most importantly, when you go to a new place, you can find a new you!
Finally, I would like to thank the University of Alabama and the Education Abroad Program (and beg them to have EN 400+ classes for next summer) and all of my tremendous professors this summer that I can not begin to thank enough for the hard work, dedication and heart they put into each of these programs.