Rachel Abma, Langara College, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Italy and London
I can’t believe that I am only one week away from embarking on a European excursion; this past month has been a whirlwind of both excitement and nervous anticipation, and with deadlines and departures rapidly approaching these feelings are only escalating. Although I feel comfortable travelling, this trip is going to be a new experience for me because this is my first visit to Europe as well as my first time taking part in a Field Study. The normal stress that I experience packing and preparing for a long trip is heightened by a fairly heavy load of readings and assignments that must be finished before the trip begins. As I sit here typing this, what feels like a million thoughts, concerns, and to-do lists are buzzing around in my brain. I keep forcing myself to take deep breaths and attempt to focus on completing one task at a time. Once I manage to declutter my brain, I remember how excited I am to board a plane on Tuesday and finally leave for Italy and London!
I have dreamed of traveling to Europe since the very first time my grandfather told me stories of growing up in the Netherlands, and my mom recounted her summers visiting family in Sweden and Norway. As I went through school and learned about history, I grew more and more fascinated by the rich cultures and landscapes that my ancestors came from, and could not escape an ache to discover Europe for myself. Unfortunately, as a mature student attempting to efficiently and effectively complete my studies, taking a summer semester off to lavish in my European getaway did not seem like something I had time for. Living in Vancouver, working to pay my own rent and trying to diligently keep up my full course load did not give me much (or any) budget to even consider a European tour. Cue European Field Study. When I heard about the program, it seemed too good to be true. I could explore culture, tourism, physical geography, and work on the blogging skills I need for my program, and gain credits while in Europe? I couldn’t sign up fast enough. For the sake of complete transparency, as much as I initially jumped at the opportunity, I definitely had hesitations. How was I going to pay for this? How would these classes be structured? What would it be like travelling with complete strangers? Once I figured out if I would be able to have the time away from work, and make sure I was eligible for the program, the professors, field study organizers, and financial aid department were very helpful, and gave me the confidence that I could really make this experience happen, that my dream could come true. My nerves have settled as I have written this, and a warm tingle of excitement is returning to my body. In one week, I leave for what I hope will be the most tangible and enriching educational experience, and I can’t wait to expand my horizons.