As I sit on a red bench along the river in yet another unknown city where the language spoken around me is as unique as the people I am forced to think back on my study abroad experience.
|View of part of Athens from Mt. Lycabettus|
I landed in Reykjavik, Iceland on the second of January and I head back to this same city on my last trip of studying abroad.When I first landed in Reykjavik for a short two hours it was stuck in nearly twenty-four hours of continuous darkness and now as I spend two nights there I will be blessed with twenty-three hours of sunlight.
|Home of the first Parliament in Iceland|
I cannot say that these five months changed my entire life, but I can say it changed a portion of my life. Studying abroad has taught me how to live without a cellphone, how to communicate with others that don't speak English, to adapt to constantly changing surroundings, to live out of a back pack for weeks at a time, and that no matter what country you are in a smile can change your day.
|Picture from Meteora Greece|
|View of Prague|
The weather is not always perfect, the plans always change, and people run out of money that's what studying abroad is.
|Taken from the Cinque Terre Hike Italy|
It is adapting to the unknown, becoming use to traveling alone and becoming an expert at interpreting train schedules. You leave a part of yourself in every city you visit because it takes something out of you. Traveling is expensive and exhausting but if we don't do it today there won't be time tomorrow.
|View of Rome from above|
If you don't see Meteora while you are in Greece
leaning Tower of Pisa while in Italy when will you ever get another chance?
Studying abroad gives us a break from the monotonous classrooms we will spend more time than we hope to in and throws us out into the world we don't have nearly enough time in.
|Enjoying Baklava in Athens|
|Some of the AIFS students at the Temple of Poseidon|
Every city is different, every language has its impact, and every mile traveled another memory. Since I have been in Europe I haven't traveled to a new country every weekend, but I got to know a few very well. Greece has everything from the mountains with monasteries to islands with donkeys and the people are as hopeful in their future as they are proud of their past,
Italy has beaches surround by famous hiking trails,
everyone needs to visit Germany to see why Bavaria should be its own kingdom again,
|Hohenwerfen Castle Austria|
Austria has some of the nicest people you will ever meet and breath taking views,
Spain is more than sangria and live dancing, and finally Iceland well Iceland is my last stop before I head back to the mainland so it will be the hardest to say goodbye to.
|One of many waterfalls in Iceland|
My heart breaks that I have to leave Europe behind for a summer of working in my home town, but I don't leave empty handed. I met some of the most flamboyant and unpredictable people while abroad, I've made new life long friends, and reconnected with old friends. I've watched the sunset from cities I only dreamed I would see and traveled on airlines I didn't know existed.
|Cinque Terre Italy|
|Sunset over Athens|
But the most important thing that I am taking home with me is the memories. There are too many to comb through now, but I know they will always be there in the back of my mind lurking to make their appearance when I need it most. At the end of the day souvenirs take up space, pictures go missing, and the wine you brought back gets enthusiastically drank up, but no one can take your memories because those are there for you to keep the best five months of your life alive. We can't live in the past we have to keep moving forward, but your past is what makes you who you are today and maybe someday sitting on the park bench in Passau, Germany will be the memory you need to get your through another hard patch. So may we all become friends with people who speak different languages and not roll our eyes when a friend returning home from a semester abroad starts another sentence with "while I was abroad."
Until we meet again Europe.
|Saying goodbye to Greece with the Acropolis in the background|