By: Sarah Ganton, Capilano University, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Innsbruck, Austria
I have been at home in Vancouver for about two weeks now. My study abroad was about one month but I travelled for another two months before coming home. I am looking back at pictures and I can’t believe everything I experienced and I am so grateful for all of the people that I met. Studying abroad is really everything people tell you it is. I learned a lot about other people and cultures, as well as a lot about myself. I will touch on a few things I have learned about myself but I think there is a lot I still don’t realize.
A big takeaway from this experience was for me to be open to experiences, to people, to anything that came my way. Being open and willing allowed me to experience so much more and in most cases the outcome was positive. A good example of this was the first time I met my soon-to-be roommate. Originally, when choosing accommodations, I chose to have a room to myself. At the orientation, I met Haley, who was very outgoing and talkative with her cute southern accent. She expressed her dissatisfaction with her current accommodations. I offered her the open bed in my dorm, if she wanted to be roommates. I thought to myself, I don’t even know this girl, am I going to regret this? Now looking back, I am so happy I asked a stranger to stay in my room, I made a friend for life. The two of us ended up being best friends during our study abroad program. I took a risk but the outcome was so overwhelmingly positive and I wouldn’t change it at all.
Another take away I had from studying abroad was a new found independence. I thought I was independent before I left for my trip but boy was I wrong. Travelling on my own was very eye-opening. Being in a country that didn’t speak English meant having to figure things out on my own. It was kind of fun actually, because when I didn’t ask for help and figured it out, it was very rewarding. On the other hand, I was also forced to ask people for help or for directions. This was also an important learning experience for me because I tend to shy away from asking for help in my general life.