By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universitiet, Netherlands
Going back home always holds challenges. Sometimes it is easy to fall back into old roles and forget about the experiences and developments that you have gone through. Even just going back from university to your home city with your family, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. This was something I was worried about when I thought about going back to Manchester after my year in Amsterdam. I was scared of returning to my default student ways. Not that all the defaults are a bad thing, but also some I had grown out of in my year away. Your environment is a massive impacting factor in how you behave and what you focus on. So naturally, moving countries will affect you. It’s not easy.
By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)
So there it goes. Just like that it’s time to say goodbye to another wonderful experience, in a wonderful place, having met some wonderful people. Although three months might not seem like such a long time, the sheer immersion of both the every-day and the extraordinary events is enough to produce a tear or two. This is especially the case when, one after the other, all your Mitacs acquaintances, turned good friends, who’s project started before yours, start saying their goodbyes. As I waved to the parting cars and taxis, it all started feeling a bit surreal. In a few days, that will be me in that car.
I thought that going abroad was going to be the biggest change in my life this year. But since returning, things are still continuing to change. I have started an internship with the University of Manchester over summer, and in turn, my first full time, professional job. I have lived completely alone for the first time – including setting up all the heating, internet and meters in the house!! And finally, (here comes the biggie) my parents made the decision to move to New Zealand.
I feel as if this year hasn’t just been a monumental shift within myself, but my family too. And without studying abroad, I wouldn’t have been able to handle all the things that I have listed anywhere near as well as I have. I’m not going to pretend it’s all been easy, but I have coped and thrived and grown up rapidly in the space of a few months.
I used to be so afraid of change – making the decision to go abroad was not one I took lightly, and I’m not sure I ever truly believed I was going until I stepped off the plane in Toronto. But now, I can feel myself embracing it; my parents are moving to the other side of the world and I could not be more excited for them (and for myself too!)
By studying abroad I proved my ability for independence to myself and to my parents, and I don’t know if they would be moving if I hadn’t gone. The decision to live abroad affects not just you but everyone you know, and if it affects you positively, chances are it will affect them positively too.
I am working with the international office on my internship, and I cannot express how rewarding it has been to be involved with the process of encouraging students to study abroad, and being able to pass on my experience and passion to them. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity in this internship, and met the amazing people I have, and gained the life experience that I have, if it wasn’t for studying abroad.
If you haven’t already got the message – go! Study abroad! You will gain a lifetime of memories, experiences and knowledge and grow so much as a person – and this doesn’t stop on your return. And hey, who knows – your family might move to the other side of the world and give you a new place to explore.
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(Cape Reinga, New Zealand. The top of the north island, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean)
Hello, my name is Emily and I’m addicted to talking about study abroad.
I’m back, lads. Back in Manchester after studying abroad at McGill University and do not need much prompting at all to start talking about Canada. I don’t want to be a typical ‘Gap yah’ continually talking about my year in Canada but it’s not hard to slot into conversation something that happened in Canada, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just to reiterate, I studied abroad for a year at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, I feel everyone needs to know.
Finally, my last day in Maryland has passed. It was pretty sad to see Maryland and not knowing when will be the next time I’m going to see it again – McKeldin library where I spent days revising for exam and doing my assignments, the stadium where we cheered for Maryland and getting super excited when we smashed Purdue on a football game, seeing Stamp building for the last time where so many memories were made…. Time flies too fast.
It wasn’t an easy semester at all. There were so many times I wished I didn’t even bother to go study abroad, but now I’m happy I persevered through (that’s for another blog post that’s coming soon!). And for sure, there were so many lessons that I learned through studying abroad. Here I’ll talk about my 3 greatest lessons that I learned in Maryland.
When I was told that I would have to write a series of blogs for the global ambassador programme, I had assumed that my final blog would be about how I was looking forward to going home and seeing my family. Where this in part is true, my biggest fear right now is leaving Australia and going back to life as I knew it before. The truth is Australia has become my home now and the thought of going back to Manchester actually scares me a little.
There is a blog circulating around social media talking about the things people don’t tell you when you go on a year abroad and reading it I couldn’t help but feel that this was going to be me upon my return home (link below). Yes I am excited to go home and see may family and friends, to see how much my nephews have grown, and to see what has changed since I’ve been gone, but a large part of me just isn’t ready to go back yet. I know for a fact for the first few weeks seeing everyone and catching up with them will be great, but once that stops ill find myself yearning to be back in this Magnificent country.
I have always thought of my self an an independent person, but coming on this year abroad has just proven it to me further. I value friends and family, but I also value the opportunities you get in life to travel, explore and push your own emotion and physical boundaries and this has year has done just that.
I often sit back, look at my bank account and think; Geez its been an expensive year, but then i remember all the travelling I’ve done, the memories I created and the people I’ve met and I wouldn’t change any of it. All the experiences I’ve had have created a fire that wants to continue to create more memories, experience new culture and meet new and interesting people from all over the world. If anyone asks me how much Ive spent, ill happily tell them, but i will also follow with how I’ve spent it. I like to think i have made the most of my year abroad and would urge anyone else going on a year abroad is to grab the experience with both hands. The opportunities you get when your away may never happen again. If the local residents invite you into there homes, take it. If they invite you to go away for the weekend, accept it. It is often to local people that can give you the best opportunities whilst your away, as they know all the best spots.
It hasn’t always been an easy ride out here, there has been many occasion where I’ve felt guilty that I haven’t gone home due to the death or illness of a relative and when I ended up in hospital myself over Christmas I began to feel what it must be like for my family back home. However despite this, my parents have never urged me to go home and part of me thanks them for that as I’ve been able to experience some incredible things out here.
I’m coming out of this experience a better person, with a wider friendship group, with some of the funniest and nicest people I’ve met and can see that longtime friendships have been formed. We all arrived as slightly lost exchange students and we’ve all grown together. Independence, confidence, self motivation and courage are all character traits that’s have only progressed and improved since being here.
I have spoken to the fellow Manchester students about there thoughts on going ‘home’, none of us are ready and in fact at least four of us have said we will be returning as soon as is possible. Personally I have plans to try and locate a job out here within the environmental science field.
To put this in to perspective I’m writing this blog at three in the morning, the day before i leave, as I lay awake contemplating what my next move is going to be. Right now I’m not ready to go home. My advice now is to anyone thinking of going on a year abroad, is do it. You will have your reservations and doubts and you may hesitate to make a decision, which is normal, but from me to you, you will not regret that decision to go, initially it will be hard to say goodbye, but the people you met, the experiences you have make it all worth while. And if you are anything like I am right now, I’m having a hard time saying goodbye to Australia, so I’m not going to. Plans to return are already underway and I’m hoping to be back very soon.
So I’ll catch ya later Perth!
Under African Skies: THE HARDEST PART OF TRAVELLING THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT
Leaving The University of Maryland was really hard. I knew it would be difficult to leave new friends behind and to let go of the travelling bug I’d caught during my time abroad. But what I didn’t expect was to find it so difficult to understand leaving. It felt almost as if I had started over and built a new university experience because everything was so different and exciting. So when it came to the end it was hard to comprehend the fleeting nature of my time abroad, and to let go of everything I had enjoyed so much. I’m the type of person that loves change – I moved around a lot as a child, was constantly switching schools, joining new clubs and fitting into now spaces. I took on Maryland just as I took on any new change, but this was one of the hardest places to leave behind. You feel special when you’re abroad; everything is exciting and everyone is excited with you. You learn to act within and relish in a new framework. I loved all of my classes, I loved the campus, I loved the friendships I made, I loved the atmosphere. So leaving was a hard pill to swallow.
The main difference I think I appreciated the most between Manchester and Maryland was the exuberance of the Maryland students and the amount of school spirit every student had woven through them. It was so fun to be in an environment so excited about the school and so passionate about its success. It was great to watch sports games that would end up on television and wear fun Terp merchandise around campus. The school spirit made everyone seem part of one big community and it was cool to feel a part of something so vast.
The classes were great, my teachers were engaging and interested in my success. The teaching style was very different from the UK, and I found that the lecturers were mostly focused on student progression and seeing them grow throughout the course – and they were allowed to do so within the system of constant assessment. Yes, I resented this at first. Yes, I was disheartened by lower grades at the beginning of the semester. But by the end of the semester I really came to appreciate how much it helped me academically.
I think I’ve gushed about my friends enough in my previous blogs, but of course they were integral to my time in Maryland and they are all very special to me. So thanks guys.
All in all I cannot imagine having a better experience abroad. I wouldn’t change a thing about it and I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to study abroad and run with it, because it’s an experience you’re unlikely to be offered again. I had an incredible time abroad that I won’t ever want to forget.