A Broad Abroad

london, Travel

I’ve studied abroad more times than the average human. I travelled to Paris and Nice the summer before high school, encouraging me to better utilize the French skills I thought I had. (Let’s just say the 13-ish years of French classes have made me nowhere near fluent.)

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The summer after my first year of college I went on a short-term study abroad trip with my university’s College of Education. The two weeks were a joke academically, but were a wonderful introduction to being in a foreign country, and I can’t complain about being able to travel from Paris to the South of France to Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo. The next summer, I did another short-term trip through the CoE, this time to Italy and Greece. I had a blast.

 

 

I learned a few lessons on these trips though: 1. I was too independent to be forced into a group of 20 people who couldn’t figure out the French metro system to save their lives. 2. I wanted to interact with locals, not with Americans. 3. I was so freaking fortunate and privileged to be able to go on these trips.

My junior year was spent abroad: first in Sydney, Australia then in Stockholm, Sweden. My time in Sydney was spent attending Macquarie University, meeting Americans and Australians alike, taking Sociology classes, learning to order drinks at bars, pushing my introvert to its limits, and growing a heck of a lot. (Please send Tim Tams.)13606726_10208327169590741_2939824590994043790_n

Stockholm was a very different experience. I met next to no Swedes, ventured around Stockholm and Europe a heck of a lot, learned to pack a carryon for varying trip lengths, studied very rarely at Södertörns högsköla (in English, let’s be real), discovered the horrors of seasonal depression and the beauty of 22 hours of daylight in the summer. (My love affair with IKEA and Max Burgers continues to this day.)42593388_10217577769095213_5706831081802563584_o

When I was finishing my undergrad, it was only logical that I seize the opportunity to go abroad one last time, so I applied to do a Master’s degree abroad. The financial benefits were there, it was one year compared to two in the US, and it would be a new opportunity to travel and meet new people. In retrospect, it would have been nice to better research my program before I went and I probably could have better selected my courses. But overall, I can’t say I regret going to London.

Would I study abroad again? In a heart beat. Is studying abroad the same as traveling abroad? Absolutely not. Did I meet the best people everywhere I went? 100 percent. Am I so freaking fortunate to have this many once in a lifetime experiences? Heck yes.

 

P.S. If you have ANY questions about studying abroad, please let me know – I’m more than happy to chat about any of my experiences for months.

P.P.S. I did some “research” on the term “broad”, which seems to have originated in the 1930s to refer to women by their “wideness”, which is icky (also it mostly referred to prostitutes which like makes me frustrated by the historical objectification of women in a patriarchal society, but…). I’m going off the Urban Dictionary definitions here to justify my “clever title”: less respectable than a lady, but more respectable than a bitch. I’m not mad at it.

Naptown

Travel

When deciding where I wanted to attend college, I had a few requirements: it had to be the right size (the 5,000 to 10,000 student mark), I had to be able to study abroad at least once, it needed to be nationally recognizable, it had to have the programs I thought I would be pursuing, and most importantly it had to be far away from home.

Not that I don’t love D.C. and my family, but I was ready to get moving. I looked at schools in the South and in California, hoping for warm weather. As I crossed off schools and applied, I had one last addition, suggested by my mom thanks to my aunt’s recommendation: Butler University.

butlerI applied on a whim, and waited to hear back from the eleven schools on my list. Because I had a brother who had gone through the process three years prior, I had seen quite a few colleges. Our family vacations for a few years there were hopping from one college tour to another, some more successful than others. I had seen just about every college from Maine to Alabama. I think we counted it to be about 60 in total, by the time I was waiting on acceptances and wait lists and rejections.

That spring, I had three choices: one less known but in California, one even less known in Texas, and a Midwest school famous for its underdog basketball team.

My senior year spring break was spent looking at the only two colleges I had not visited yet. My father and I hopped a flight to San Antonio and spent three days exploring and visiting a school there. Then for the last chunk of my senior year spring break, I went to the one school I was not anticipating liking at all.

I recall that my tour at Butler was relatively unforgettable, but afterwards as I sat in the car reading the pamphlets I had collected. I laughed at how few non-Midwesterns went to the school and double checked that they had the programs I was interested in. My mom swears that car ride was when she knew I would be going to Butler. Apparently, I had a smile on my face that she hadn’t seen after any of the other visits.

The next month, I pulled a Rory Gilmore and made a pro/con list for my two final choices. The reasons came out about the same, so my mom sent me to the family room to ask my brother the question that made my choice for me. Have you ever heard of these two schools?

The first school shared a name with another school more popular with local college searches, but otherwise struck no cord in my brother’s memory. But Butler he knew. They had a basketball team that made it to the Final Four and defined the term ‘underdawg‘. It was enough for an East Coaster to recognize the school. If he knew the school, someone else outside of Indiana might know as well. (And that looked good for my future post-grad plans.)

So I made my choice and in August of 2013, I moved to Indianapolis. The city had a reputation as Naptown, the kind of snooze fest only broken up by the most redneck of sports: the Indy 500.indy

Fortunately, the city is growing. Over my three years in Indy, I found lots of things to love about the city and my school. I got involved (which you should do when you go anywhere new!) and started exploring this new place. I volunteered in the local community, I took classes that opened my eyes to a whole new world, I jumped at every chance to travel for class credits, I met people from literally all over the world, and I crossed more and more places from my Indiana to-do list.

I fell in love with the IMA (which is literally just around the corner from Butler). I ran around downtown and Mass Ave. I saw the Nutcracker and Kesha and lecture series in Clowes Hall. I explored the zoo (which is really nice, if you were curious). And while I never made it to the Indy 500, I saw my fair share of sports in Indy, both at Butler and in the city.

But Butler Basketball has a special place in my heart, and I will cheer for them whenever I can (whether that’s in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse or in D.C. with my family). It’s the reason I went to Butler.