Czech Republic

Falling in Love Abroad

Madelyn Falteisek is a student at Winona State University and a former ISA Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Prague, Czech Republic.

Before I departed for my semester abroad, each of my friends, family and passing acquaintances gave me a knowing smile as they declared I was destined to fall in love abroad. They’d smile wistfully as I rejected this prediction.

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I’ve watched The Lizzie McGuire movie religiously for enough years to know exactly how it would happen. What I didn’t expect was the way my heart would shatter after it was all over, or how many times it could break. Little did I know I wouldn’t be tumbling head over heels for a foreign prince; I’d be in a love struck daze over cities. And all sorts of them. I’d explore them tirelessly until I became enamored with each flaw and every cobblestone.

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For me it was usually the little things, the content locals leisurely strolling through lush parks, the lull of the river against stone steps, the smiling gelato girl. I had found something to love everywhere I went. What stung the most were the goodbyes, the uncertainty of my return, not knowing when I’d set foot in these tremendous lands next.

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My heart cracked again and again, gazing out the window as I lost sight of story book cities. What sane person would intentionally harm themselves this way? What kind of maniac falls in love just to tear something so wonderful away from themselves? That’s what traveling is. The constant departures and arrivals make way for new adventures and are all a part of the game.

What would the long train rides be without your dear friends leaning over you to catch a glimpse of the Alps out the window? Huddling in the back of a six hour bus ride exchanging ghost stories is standard practice whilst studying abroad. Or the looks of pure terror as you scurry off a train in an attempt to make your connection an abnormal three whole platforms away and the sighs of relief as you board the train just as it exits the station.

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Something I struggled with as a photographer was capturing these treasured ‘in-between’ moments. There is something to be said about all of these moments shared in transit to remarkable places whether it be with old or new friends. The lively atmosphere of arrival and the hazy aura of departing bond people together and to places.

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Preparing for the next adventure while leaving behind the past takes a little getting used to. As long as one treats the breakup appropriately, there should be no issue stepping forward into the new venture that awaits. Falling in love is fun and exploration is healthy.

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I wish I could personally grab anyone who thinks they aren’t fit for traveling by the shoulders and shake them until they agree to depart the country. There is no way you will truly understand it until you go, so go now.

While in Norway hiking I came across a bench that read  “Det er den som farer vill som finner nye veier” which translates to “It is he who goes astray who finds new ways.” To me, that is what traveling is about.

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The world awaits…discover it.

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