Looking back on my time in Sevilla, I have realized that study abroad offered me more than I could have imagined. My heart breaks a little more with each passing day knowing that I’ll have to leave behind a city that has shaped who I am and will be. I didn’t realize that I’d ever fall into the cliché of saying that I am a changed person, but I’m convinced it truly happens to everyone. I have both lost and gained so many things during my four months but cannot confidently say there is anything I would have changed.
Things I Have Lost:
Money: This is pretty obvious. I saved for a while in preparation for my trip to Europe, and it was worth it. I have spent every penny in my bank account and I would do it all over again to visit the Eiffel Tower, eat fish and chips in London, and to sit by the river in Sevilla one more time.
Wallet: I was sitting in a restaurant in Lisbon and left my wallet (cards, ID, money, etc.) beneath the table. Thankfully, my friends caught it before we were too far away, but I still thought a part of me had died upon the realization of what would have ensued.
Passport: While I didn’t technically “lose” this, I left it in my room right before an international flight. I was halfway to the airport on a bus with my friends when it hit me. I have never in my life been so frantic and felt awful for the cab driver who listened to my flustered rants. Thankfully, the budget airline we were flying was delayed, and I still made it on time. I suppose cheap flights are good in more than one way.
Phone: The worst possible thing that could have happened, happened within a few weeks of being abroad. I left my phone sitting on the table of one of my favorite restaurants in Sevilla. After paying and walking around the city for awhile, I realized around 1:00 am that my phone was missing. I jumped out of the cab that was taking us home and ran through throngs of people trying to find the restaurant. Thankfully, it was a Friday and was open late. They had my phone sitting on the counter and I went home after another close call.
Things I Have Gained:
Independence and Common Sense: Traveling, and specifically traveling alone, has instilled a newfound independence and sense of accountability in me. When you are alone, in a foreign country, speaking a different language, you truly do develop wisdom that can only be learned by wandering and stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Experiences: Again, self-explanatory. There is something amazing about being able to say you witnessed Paris in the rain, had a Guinness in Dublin, and rode a camel in the Sahara Desert. I will forever be thankful for the opportunities gifted to me through study abroad and know that my experiences in four months surpass what some will do in their lifetime.
A New Global Outlook: Visiting Europe and Northern Africa has taken “expanding your horizons” to another level. I had no expectations coming into my trip and am grateful for that as I have formulated a new and unbiased view of how others live. Every country and every city was a reminder of how different my life at home is. More importantly, I feel that my travels have stressed and reiterated how importance difference is.
Perspective: After only a few short months abroad, my perspectives on the United States, Europe, and the world have changed immensely. I feel that I have gained such important knowledge on a firsthand level and know I couldn’t have learned it any other way. I have learned to appreciate travel, culture and community, education, and the value of life much more than I could have hoped for.
While my experience has taught me responsibility and paranoia regarding my personal belongings, the things I have lost don’t even begin to outweigh all that I have gained from being abroad. I have learned so much about myself and about others. I will never regret such an impactful four months and know that I will always continue to seek adventure and explore more of this wonderful world.
The world awaits…discover it.