I’ve spent a little over a month in Belgium attending the Katholieke University of Leuven and one thing’s for sure – this isn’t Hanover anymore. Within this short month alone I’ve had many realizations about my personal life which include, but isn’t limited to: traveling, living in the moment, cooking, and immersing myself in a different culture.
Traveling has always appeared to be a luxury, but since my arrival in Europe I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel in the first month alone to parts of Germany I had never dreamt of seeing. As well as spending the past weekend in Budapest, Hungary with some of the greatest traveling buddies. Traveling during my time overseas has allowed for my view on the topic to shift into more of an educational and opportunistic view of the term. With that being said I am always looking for the best deals, the cheapest hostels and I am not ashamed to travel with a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread by my side.
Living in the moment is a lifestyle that is never really viewed in a positive light in America and I think that has something to do with our extremely busy schedules that at the end of the day leave most of us only thinking about ourselves. Typically when on campus I am involved in many extracurricular activities such as: a member of the Women’s Soccer Team, Phi Mu, Student Senate Class Representative, a Student Ambassador, and a Residence Assistant and in my free time I participate in some volunteer work. All activities are accompanied by the challenging academic classes that Hanover offers. This experience has taught me to stop and cherish the moments that I am being given. Before my study abroad experience I was typically the girl who could not live without consulting her planner, but now I discover the opportunity to catch a bus to Paris for less than 20 Euros and don’t even think twice.
Cooking has been and still continues to be a learning experience. I never realized how much I took for granted having a meal plan that allows me the opportunity to eat three square meals a day. While yes, I was one of the student that moaned and groaned occasionally about having a poor variety on Sundays, but you never really know what you have until its gone. Not to mention how lucky I was to have a large family who made sure no one ever went hungry. Grocery shopping with another currency, as well as navigating through a language barrier at times made for some interesting adventures in the culinary department. I also learned that while traveling through parts of Germany, sometimes your best bet is to just smile and point at the delicacy you are wishing to purchase.
Emerging myself in another culture had been the most rewarding part of my study abroad experience, thus far because of the people I have been fortunate enough to meet. I was paired up through my Universities “Buddy Program”, with a fantastic role model, Annelien. She has gone above and beyond my expectations I had for her as a mentor and she has become a friend, whose advice I truly trust. Annelien has allowed me the opportunity to see life from her perspective, introduced me to her culture, meet her friends, travel together and create memories that will last a lifetime together and for all of that I am eternally grateful.