June, 2015 | Reciprocal Exchanges Blog

I have now been back in Texas for about a month and it has been an interesting adjustment. I miss everything about Europe: the sights, the people, the food…especially the food! But there were definitely things about the U.S. and Texas that I missed. It was a crazy semester, but if given the opportunity I would without a doubt do it all over again!

Here are a few pictures of the places I was able to see and the people I had the pleasure of meeting.

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My advice to those considering studying abroad:

1. Do it. Without a doubt it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Besides the incredible cities and scenery, I learned so much this semester that has shaped me. You will learn problem solving skills (like when your train gets cancelled and you are stuck in a small German town for the night), how to communicate with those who don’t speak the same language as you, how much you can push yourself out of your comfort zone…and so much more.

2. Do your research. Make sure you consider all of your options and chose the one that seems the best fit for you. Don’t just consider the country, consider the program, the timing of it, how intense the classes will be, how easy it will be to travel from wherever you are…all of those things make a difference.

3. Embrace the country and the culture. Wherever you go will be so different from life in the U.S., but take the opportunity to really embrace your new home. It will make it easier to make friends, and really learn about the culture. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If the country you choose takes 2 hour naps every day, try it out! If the country you choose walks around with bread on a daily basis, try it out! Studying abroad is your chance to experience something different than what you are used to. Take advantage of every opportunity.

4. And finally, enjoy yourself. Don’t get too hung up on the little things. At the end of the day it won’t really matter if you don’t get the dorm room you want or your flight gets cancelled. Don’t stress about the small things and make the most of the time you have.

Studying abroad is a truly unique experience, one that is hard to explain. My time in Strasbourg was amazing, and I strongly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take advantage of it.

Categories: 2015, France, Reciprocal Exchange

Its so strange that I have less than a month left in Vienna. Classes are winding down and more friends are saying goodbye as they move back to all corners of the globe. This past month was filled with tests, presentations, and readings. I mainly stayed in Vienna and spent time with friends ticking off every item on our giant list. While I thought these last few weeks would be rough as great friends leave, I realized one thing. After only 5 months, I have friends all around the world! I can already see myself saying things like “My Dutch friends always say…” or “Brazilians love kebabs more than anybody” when I’m back in the states pestering my friends.

I miss the US so much…my dog, driving on long highways to name a few things. Nonetheless Vienna has felt more and more like a home with each passing day. Whether its walking through Karlsplatz after class, saying hallo to the the gelato vendor by Prater (who now knows me by name and knows my order, yikes), or even bumping into other exchange students in the merkur food market in Westbahnof. Everything is fitting into place and becoming comfortable.

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This semi assimilation over the past few months has proved something to me. I’m capable of moving anywhere, and with time and effort I can make friends, appreciate the local culture, and enjoy the small things. This fact really puts my mind at ease when I think about interviewers asking me which office I would see myself at. The anxiety of moving across the country doesn’t even come compare to this experience, because I know that by getting through the tough first few weeks of this exchange I can handle any move. I’m definitely not the same person.

Categories: 2015, Austria, Reciprocal Exchange

I have been home for 2 weeks now and I have to say, coming back to America hasn’t been the culture shock I was expecting. For about a day I was eating eveything in sight (hello Tex Mex) and little things felt so new to me after 5 months in Europe. These things include large stores where you can get everything like Walmart, the wealth of food choices and how cheap they all are, and especially coming back to my apartment in College Station, Texas and not Strasbourg, France. But after a couple days, things returned to normal – almost like I’d never left.

I do talk about Europe a lot. I find myself thinking about little things we did in Portugal, or random nights we had in Strasbourg. Of course I have to bug my friends and family about it and tell all my stories.

The weirdest thing is I didn’t really wish I was back in Europe until a couple of days ago. I felt like I spent a good 5 months there and I was ready to be home. What changed was when the summer study abroad students arrived in Strasbourg. I am friends with a few of them on Facebook and all I can think is “hey you’re visiting MY city in MY country!” It’s kind of hard when you see these people go everywhere you went for half a year.

Started my internship on June 1, so that’s been keeping me busy.

Loved you France/Germany/England/Austria/Portugal/Spain/Italy/Monaco/Netherlands/Ireland/Czech Republic/Hungary/Slovakia! See you when I see you.

Categories: 2015, France, Reciprocal Exchange

It’s taken me a long time to sit down and write this. It’s so hard to believe that this semester flew by. I’ve been home for two weeks and I’m still waiting to go back, to pack my backpack and head back to the little dorm I called home for the last 5 months. I suppose the best thing I could do for the readers at this point could be to give you my opinions of the pros and the cons of Oslo. Let’s begin on a good note and start with pros.

Pros: -There are cafes everywhere and the coffee shops and baristas are awesome and the coffee is the best in the world (Really!). -The scenery is amazing and if you are a nature lover it will put you in a hypnotic trance, a state of adoration and comfort here-to-for never experienced. -Everyone is extremely friendly and most people speak English so getting around is quite easy.  -Brunost is awesome brown cheese that tastes like cheddar cheese and maple syrup. I prefer the one in the blue package made from goat’s cheese. It is just so awesome so if you are going there please, for me, try some. (It’s great on Vaffels.) -You will meet amazing people from everywhere and learn to drink cheap Danish beer together. -The people in Norway, not so much in Oslo but other places, have the same sense of trust in each other that us Aggies have.

Cons: -SIO housing is AWFUL! If I were to go back I would stay in BSN. They charge you for ridiculous things and its really expensive. I would have fought the charges they put against me if I wasn’t already in TX when I got them. -The prices are outrageous, but that is a given. -There is not a lot of selection for food unless you go to mega stores, and even those don’t have anything on H-E-B. You get used to eating the same 6-7 things over and over again. -Nothing is open on Sundays except a few cafes and those are extremely busy then. -It is really easy to get a little depressed during the winter months when you’re getting maybe  hours of sun a day. Make sure you are out in the sun a lot. -The University is completely different from TAMU… it was a little crazy for me to work my way around.

I honestly had a really great  experience and can not wait to take my SO and maybe even my children someday. I hope this blog has helped in some way.

p.s. sorry for no picture, I could not find one to do my last days justice….

 

Categories: 2015, Norway, Reciprocal Exchange