It seems like just yesterday I was getting on the plane to come to Edinburgh. Due to rainy weather in Chicago, I had to take completely new flights and didn’t make it to the group flight. I was nervous that everyone would make friends and that I wouldn’t be able to navigate the airports. My semester abroad has had its share of nerve-wracking moments and times when I was unsure if I could handle the pressures. But one of the things I’ve learned while being abroad is that I can deal with the curve balls thrown at me, and I succeeded at surviving on my own this semester.
One of the skills I’ve picked up while abroad is the ability to adapt. I came to a new city knowing no one. I couldn’t tell you which way was North or South and couldn’t understand the Scottish accent. But with all things, you learn to adjust and I picked up the accent, found great friends, and can now confidently tell you which way the sea is, where Edinburgh is in relation to other Scottish cities, and even where the best restaurants are around town.
Another skill I’ve learned is to always be prepared. In Scotland it rains. A lot. So always be prepared and carry an umbrella. The same thing goes for having a backup plan. You never know what problems might come up and it’s always good to have a plan in place for the moments you can’t predict.
I have learned to appreciate and enjoy the little moments. Sometimes the best moments I’ve had while abroad are the ones where I stop and look around to take it all in. I recently had this moment as I was walking back from class and stumbled upon the Edinburgh Christmas Market. I stopped and got a cup of cider and walked around the tents thinking to myself how happy I was to be in the moment and to have the experience of a lifetime in Scotland.
I think the biggest thing I’ve gained from studying abroad is independence. I’ve mentioned that I have navigated trips by myself, figured out new cities, and adapted to new things. Through all my various experiences abroad I have not to be afraid to do things on my own, and I know that I will succeed if I put my mind to something. Furthermore, I know that not only am I able to do things on my own, I have grown to enjoy doing things on my own.
Adapting, being prepared, appreciating the small things, and valuing independence are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned abroad. These lessons were helpful in molding my study abroad experience and I know that will serve me well in the future.