Me and My Backpack Against the World

It has officially been one week since the end of my summer program in Brussels. To tell you that time flew by is a major understatement. In the short seven weeks that I was able study there, Brussels became my home. My host family became my family. And lastly, the ISA staff became some of my best friends. Departing from the planned and known to venture out onto Europe on my own has been quite a transition.

I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t excited to travel on m own. There are always restrictions that come along with being part of a bigger group, especially one that is made up of students and those who are paid to ensure we make it back to the states. You’re excursions are already planned, and while you do have free time, it never truly seems to be enough. With so many things and places to see, it can become slightly frustrating to be on someone else’s schedule. While some of my favorite trips and moments only occurred when I was on ISA excursions, I was still very excited to be able to go out on my own.

Like many other millennials, I was overtly confident in myself and my abilities. Being trilingual I thought someone somewhere had to at least speak one of the three languages to give me directions. WiFi, I thought would readily be found. To top it all off, my mother was going to meet me out here. To some degree I was right. People can are very kind and helpful, there is plenty of WiFi (just not free), and my mom is an asset. The rose colored glasses that I had in the beginning of the trip lost some of their shimmer. I very quickly began to appreciate everyone that had even slightly helped me plan my summer. Yes traveling on your own time is great. You have the ability to really get the experience you want, but it comes at a cost. If anything, this past week has made me insurmountably appreciative of my study abroad experience. Many people had previously advised me to simply travel or backpack and save the money I was paying for a study abroad program. I was told that credits were always difficult to transfer and that I would be happier without a class. Yes I loved the travel component of this trip, but I loved being a student abroad more.

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