That awkward moment when you run into someone you know but can’t remember their name. Or the moment when the professor calls you out in class. Everyone has experienced some uncomfortable moment in their life. If not, please let me know! I must meet you!
These “uncomfortable” moments are exactly what I am looking for as I embrace a 4-month long study abroad adventure throughout Europe. I want to put myself in situations that don’t feel natural – the one’s that make me want to crawl inside my skin. Seems crazy, but these are the moments that shape and form us into more knowledgable and understanding people.
Too often college students studying abroad constrict themselves to the “American Bubble”. The average American student studying abroad spends about 4.5 hours a day communicating with family and friends back home. That’s 4.5 hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen and chatting or video calling. In that same amount of time a student can go for a hike, go have coffe with some locals, or go play sports with the native kids. It’s nice to check in with mom and dad every now and then, but too much communication can shackle a student and keep them from exploring. The world has so much to offer, yet most students stay within their comfort zone and only communicate with the Americans they travel with. Why not just spend a few weeks hanging out at Busch Gardens then? It offers the foreign food and thrilling rollercoasters all in one place at a reasonable price. This is not what travelling and exploring culture are about. Study abroad is meant to be a life-changing experience that pushes students outside of their bubble of comfort.
I must admit that popping that bubble can be quite intimidating and scary. My first time abroad I tried my hardest to avoid attempting to speak the native language. What a terrible mistake! I realized that being immersed in the culture is more than eating the food – it’s about a life-altering experience. If it’s nothing more than a tour here and there, then I will be nothing but another tourist. My goal is to be a global citizen, not a travelling American. I know that this full-immersion is going to be hard for me since I am a home body. However, I cannot let my family and friends keep me from broadening my perspective through this unique opportunity.
I must break free!
I must throw off my comfortable shoes!
I must embrace the life of the locals!
I must try on their shoes!
“Being willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.”