Honestly, if someone had told me last year at this time that I was going to be studying abroad in Scotland, I wouldn’t have believed them. Of course, I hoped and prayed that I would be accepted to study at St. Andrews, but I really didn’t think that I would be. Further, I didn’t think that if I was accepted I would choose to go.. I mean, I am in love with Holy Cross and everything that the school has done for me. Now, as I sit here in my dorm room sipping chai tea and munching on a “biscuit,” I can’t imagine NOT studying abroad.
At Holy Cross, I had become very comfortable. I felt very in control of everything that was going on around me. I knew what each day would look like. I would wake up and get my omelette from Kimball, go to class, do my homework and repeat. I felt so content and comfortable at Holy Cross (especially since I had a nice Tempur-pedic mattress pad). I knew the people in my classes. I knew my professors and what they expected from me. I knew what I was going to eat and when. I knew when the gym was the least crowded. I knew that if I wanted to skip my Chinese practicum I could go out on Wednesdays. My days were very regimented, and I was constantly stressed (pretty sure anyone I know can attest to this…). If I had no school work to do, I would create stress for myself; I would set up networking calls, add new activities to my schedule, overanalyze interactions, and plan out every minute of my day (would even schedule in my naps and showers just because..).
Come second semester of my sophomore year, I had become so accustomed to my routine and daily life at Holy Cross that I was taking my college experience completely for granted. I failed to live with spontaneity–which is exactly how a 20 year old in college should be living. It was not until now that I have really learned this. Studying and living in a completely different country has forced me to completely step outside of my comfort zone. I feel like each and every day that I am here, I try something new or do something different that I would never have done if I had spent my junior year at Holy Cross. I have deemed this year the year of “yes,” and every time I am asked to do something, I say yes (now, of course there are limits….).
Everything seems to be completely out of my hands, and although that is very unsettling for someone as type-A as myself, there is also a sort of comfort in knowing that I do not have total control over everything in my life (not that I did at Holy Cross.. but I felt like it sometimes).
I have (semi) adjusted to life here at St. Andrews, but I still feel as if each day brings new challenges and adventures. I have learned to be more flexible, and how sometimes the most beautiful moments are the ones that were not planned. I have learned how to slow down and how to savor each moment. I have learned how to cook the perfect steak, what it means to be cheeky, and the difference between a posh Edinburgh accent and a posh London accent. I have learned how to differentiate between a dry wine and a sweet wine, how to make the perfect cup of tea and that the English sense of humor is very different from mine. I think that it is through studying abroad at St. Andrews that I have become more myself; I have become more confident, independent, reflective, and deliberate.
I do not think that studying abroad is for everyone, but it is definitely for me. This has been a transformative experience. I have become more open and accepting, more spontaneous and adventurous, and I live life with a renewed sense of purpose. I can’t help but attribute this growth to Holy Cross. Thank you Holy Cross for giving me the courage to go and for giving me a reason to come back.