Michelle Davies

By: Michelle Davies, Thompson Rivers University, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: Switzerland

At the feisty age of 4 years old, I promptly told my older brother: “you are not the boss of me, I know more than you do,” as I scaled the fridge in search of the candy cupboard. This offered insight towards the independent person I would become. There was little I didn’t want to do on my own and rare that I asked for help.

How does this connect with study abroad? Going to Switzerland, I had to learn to let go of control. Not knowing German, nevermind Swiss German, forced me to accept that I wouldn’t and couldn’t always understand what was going on. Plus, I didn’t always understand how life operated in my new home. Though typically simple, I would make mistakes that left me embarrassed. While I was diligently working on my German language skills, and many kindly spoke in English, the reality was: often I didn’t understand what was being said or the situation at hand.

At first, I felt lonely and struggled to come to terms with my new reality. But as time went on, I learn to appreciate this new sense of freedom. Freedom to be in my own thoughts, the ability to “go with the flow,” enjoy the moment for what it was and laugh at myself. A lot. Plus, my ability to read situations through body language became a valued skill.

Returning home, I found it hard to adapt to always being in the know. This first struck me when I was standing in the grocery store line up: I could understand every word of the gossip filed story told by the couple in front of me. I missed the sort of “lulu-land” that I had often found myself in. 

Luckily I brought home much of what I had learned abroad: the ability to enjoy the moment, let some control go and not take myself so seriously. And some seriously good charade skills!

Student Blog


Leave a Comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Recent Blog Posts

This scholarship is to: Encourage international students (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao SAR students are not eligible) to study Huayu courses in the Republic of China (Taiwan); Provide them with opportunities to increase their understanding of Taiwanese culture and society, and to promote mutual...Read more
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vancouver (TECO) has launched the 2021 Taiwan Scholarship Program. This program was established by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to encourage outstanding international students to undertake degree programs in Taiwan. In addition to providing study...Read more
Interested in travelling to Belgium and the Netherlands in 2021? BCIT’s Business Summer Field School is offering post-secondary students at BC institutions the opportunity to travel to the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ghent, Bruges, and Antwerp for a short-term study abroad program from July 25–...Read more