My French is horrible. I've taken the language for years, and unfortunately, that accent is not something I will ever be able to replicate. So when I was accepted to study abroad this summer in Geneva, Switzerland (a primarily French speaking city), I was skeptical to say the least. Would they kick me out of the city for mispronouncing croissant a million times? Luckily instead, it was an incredible learning and maturing experience. Here are some lessons from my travels abroad:
1. Overcome your fears.
I have a lot of fears. When I was younger, I had apocalyptic dreams nightly, and was convinced there was a family living in our attic for no particular reason. When faced with daily horrors in the European news, and pressures of presentations in front of a scarily intelligent peer group, it hurt my heart to say the least. However, to let your fears run your life is to live a somewhat unfulfilled life. Fears are usually a product of an active, creative mind, so try to direct that activity to positive thought, and build up from there.
2. Homesickness is real.
As a college student, I'm used to not being home for long stretches of a time, so going to Europe alone did not initially intimidate me. Once I realized I had the Atlantic ocean and a time change between myself and my loved ones, it was an eerily distant sensation. It's okay to miss home! In fact, it helped me appreciate Rhode Island and my relationships even more when I returned. Just don't let it hinder your experiences - you'll be home again soon enough.
3. It's within your reach.
Whatever your big dream is, whether it's to go to Europe, climb Mount Kilimanjaro or go back for your graduate degree, it is most likely possible. My family visited Geneva when I was 10, and I decided then that I would live there someday. That was 11 years ago. If you set long term goals, you can gradually make small decisions that will help you get there!
The world can be a scary place - right now it especially seems to be filled with almost cartoonishly villainous people. The only way that things will ever change for the better is to get out there for yourself and not let their bad decisions dictate your life too.
More About Grace
When Grace is in RI, she enjoys playing with her furry angel dog, Klaus, and having a 'nice' cup of coffee with her Grandma Gilda. You might also find her at the beach in Westerly, hoping to bump into Taylor Swift.