-Content by Sam Whitaker-
Before my semester abroad in Europe, I hadn’t spent more than a month away from my family, friends, or hometown of Syracuse. After four months full of speaking Spanish, going to class on a metro, and traveling on the weekends, I finally returned home last week to the country that I love and missed, the United States of America. As much as I enjoyed my time abroad, after four months, I was eager to get home to my family and friends.
Words can’t quite explain the feeling I got when my plane landed safely at JFK and I was walking down the terminal after I cleared customs. American food joints line the terminal; the signs are in English, and I understood everything people were saying. Some of the things I took for granted the most, I wouldn’t even realize made a difference in my life until I’ve lived without them. I missed Spain and its culture very much, but I was glad to be home.
Since that day, I’ve had time to reflect on some of the more significant adjustments I’ve made spending four months in Europe. For starters, being back in my own home is a very nice feeling. The host family experience was incredible, but it’s hard to find a place that’s more comfortable than one’s own home. The food is much less oily, and I feel healthier already knowing that I’m better able to control what I eat on a daily basis. Lastly, the jet lag real is a silent killer. I didn’t realize it at first, but it does take a few days to get one’s body re-adjusted to the six-hour time difference. I am definitely still missing a bunch of things, like my generous and caring host mother, and the convenience of being able to walk or take the metro anywhere I’d need to go.
All in all, it was an incredible experience and I couldn’t be happier that I did it. Eight months ago, I was on the fence about studying abroad, fearing I would miss life at the university far too much. I thought “I only have four years here, I can go to Europe when I’m old.” Believe me when I say that was a naive perspective that I’m glad I dropped.
If you’re thinking about studying abroad, I encourage you to explore your options and take full advantage of the opportunity. Syracuse University’s study abroad program gives you the option of studying practically anywhere on the planet. I suggest picking a place that’s a bit out of your comfort zone, a place where maybe they don’t speak a language familiar to you, or a country where their food or lifestyle is truly foreign to you. While it might be a challenging adjustment at first, you will be surprised just how much fun it is to try things you never imagined you would try.