I have been home now for five days, and with the unpacking and the adjusting, I have also done some reflecting about my three life-changing weeks in Paros, Greece. Here are five things I have learned through my first time abroad:
1. I Am Capable
There were times where fear and the what-ifs tried to bring me down. I remember stepping foot in the Air Canada line, about to print my boarding pass and check my bag, when I thought to myself maybe I’m not cut out to do this… what if I miss home… what if I get lost during my connecting flight… what if I don’t meet any friends, and I am all alone… These thoughts were very real. But then I gave myself a pep talk and kept going. Get this, throughout the travel journey to Greece, I realized that I am capable. I am capable of traveling alone. I am capable of meeting new people across the world. I am capable of living in a hostel. I am capable of adjusting to a new culture. I am capable of learning new things. Sometimes I just needed to kick the what-ifs to the curb and tell myself I am capable.
2. I Learned More Outside of the Classroom
I had creative writing class for 2-2.5 hours each day I was on the island of Paros. These sessions consisted of a writer’s workshop with six other students and a professor who looked similar to Meryl Streep. I learned so much about writing in this class, but to be completely honest, I gained most knowledge outside of the classroom. My program made us adventure to five other islands (Santorini, Antiparos, Mykonos, Delos, and Naxos), and through archeological sites, restaurants, metros, hostels, people, language, boats, ferries, mountains, beaches, customs, and traditions is where I learned the most.
3. I Need to Be Myself
With my program, there were 26 other students from around the United States joining in Athens, Greece for the first time to travel to Paros together. First impressions were overwhelming, and it was hard to see everyone’s personalities right away. The biggest takeaway I learned when it comes to meeting new people and making friends is that I just need to be myself. If I am confidently myself, my true friends will gravitate to my authenticity. Sure enough, I made friends in Greece that will last a lifetime!
4. Try New Things
With gaining confidence throughout this trip, I knew that I needed to fully experience the Greek culture through its food. I tried mussels, calamari, octopus, moussaka, baklava, banoffee, souvlaki, gyros, fried goat cheese, Greek salads, Greek frappes, and so much more! Although I sometimes consider myself a picky eater, trying all of these foods helped me to broaden my horizons and experience some cool Greek traditions!
5. Budget, Budget, Budget
If I were to do this trip all over again, the one thing I would have focused on more is budgeting. When overseas, it was really easy for me to eat out, especially when trying to meet the people in my program. But something that I noticed throughout the three weeks was that I learned just as much about the Greek culture when I went out to eat as when I went to the grocery store. I met people through buying my own groceries, making meals in the kitchen, or having picnics on the beach. All of this to say, further budgeting before I left the U.S. would have been very helpful to know. (This is also true for any weekend excursions).
Overall, if you are looking into studying abroad, I would say DO IT! You will learn so much about yourself, other cultures, and the world. Also know, you are capable, you will learn more outside of the classroom, just be yourself, try new things, and don’t forget to budget!
Thanks again for following me through Paros, Greece!
Last modified: July 3, 2019