6 things you miss out on if you don’t study abroad
I have a riddle for you. I am sitting in my room in Barcelona, a 5 minutes walk from the Parc Guell, with my laptop on my knees, a glass of Cava in my hand, writing an article in English and chatting in French with Lucille on Facebook (yes, I am a woman, yes, I love multi-tasking). Well, take a wild guess as to where I would be and with whom I would be chatting if I hadn’t moved out of Poland?
I wouldn’t have been so brave, spontaneous and open to other people as I am now.
I don’t know either. I made the decision to be an au pair in Brussels when I was 17. Since then I have studied un peu in Poitiers, spent some time in Paris and Lisbon, and worked my butt off in Barcelona trying to learn Spanish poco a poco.
I don’t know what I lost moving away from Poland but I can tell you 6 things I would have missed if I had stayed there.
- I wouldn’t know how to make paella. Or quiche lorraine. I wouldn’t know to mix chocolate milk with Bailey’s, to make empanadas with tuna or that sometimes it is good to drink coffee just before taking a nap.
- I would never have gone hitch-hiking in Portugal, stayed the night with strangers, or gone to Palma de Mallorca just because it was close by. I would never have woken up and said “where I am going to go today?”. I would never have met my new friend from Mexico, Pam, whom I met while couchsurfing in Venice last year. I wouldn’t have been so brave, spontaneous and open to other people as I am now.
- I would never have been in Spain talking to a company in London about the possibility of working for them in Paris. Studying abroad opens the world to your heart and opens your mind to the world. You start to see possibilities that you would have never thought of.
- I would never have learnt French as well as I did. Honestly, I would never have even attempted Spanish. Eight months later, however, and I speak almost fluently. It’s a pity the things we don’t try.
- I would never have seen the sunset in Toulouse overlooking le canal du midi. I would never have reached 120 km/h on a scooter in Nantes with a guy I met the day before. Life would have been so boring!
- I wouldn’t have 90% of the friends I have now. I would never have met my Spanish ex-boyfriend who is living in France and with whom I spoke English everyday. I wouldn’t have been going to language tandems every Tuesday, nor would I have learnt salsa while staying in France. I started running mostly thanks to my Polish Erasmus friend in Poitiers (whom I met there!) and I am still a big running freak today.
I don’t know where I would be today if it hadn’t been for everything I did during my Bachelor’s degree: traveling, studying abroad and trying to find my place in the World, wherever that may be. Changing the environment I lived in changed me as well.
I don’t know if I would have been better or worse off staying in my comfort zone but I do know one thing. Getting out of it may be exhilarating, have unexpected results and shake your life up for the better. Are you willing to try?
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