by fourth-year Morgan Kemper
Jumping off a rock in Cinque Terre. Skydiving in Argentina. Mingling with Cuban students. Watching the sunrise in a rural Thai village. Finding a innately human connection in an entirely unknown place. Some would say it’s “magical” and “invigorating,” others describe it as “humbling.” I’d call it the “most awe creating experience” of my life because it’s rather impossible to describe study abroad in one word. The experiences tend to take your words away and instead, you speak in memories and remember in smiles. Sometimes the occasional tear wells up when the feelings wash over you and you remember how mesmerizing it is to be so hopelessly in love with the world.
One thing I’ve learned is that study abroad isn’t momentous because of what you do, but who you do it with. While interviewing other students about their study abroad experiences, it became abundantly clear that the human relationships and the soul-awakening moments with friends, both new and old, foreign and domestic, are what remain the outstanding affecting elements of their trips. In an increasingly technological world, there is something incredibly freeing and inspiring about chatting with the Moroccan market keeper who swears up and down he’ll have a dress ready for you in 20 minutes at a discount. Beats online shopping if you ask me.
Fellow students and world-travelers agree that these magical moments do indeed change their lives in ways both big and small. They say that it fulfills new plans to “consistently give love to the world.” It changes what you see yourself doing years from now and helps you understand “how your way of life and environment directly affect the way you think and act.” You learn to be “less worried about having every single little detail” of your life planned, and instead revel in the pleasure of doing nothing. You live life knowing “you can never underestimate an opportunity, person, or yourself.” Everyone out there has the same “basic desire for human things.” Simply put, you are “appreciative of the little things.”
An experience so enormous does not simply return a person the same as they came. Somewhere between the bad airplane food and that last delicious yet somewhat unidentifiable bowl of noodle stir fry, an internal shift of the soul occurs; from simple existence to something greater, something unquantifiable and incredibly personal occurs. An omnipresent feeling of wanderlust has taken residence in my heart and is here to stay, driving me to capture more moments and seek adventure. Instead of just living, I’m savoring life. Magical moments are out there waiting for you, too.
photo by Kaitlin Kent