In her first post, Genevieve talks about her decision to study abroad in London, her international background and experience, and her expectations for this semester.
I am what some people may call a travel addict. Growing up, the inside of my suitcase was just as familiar to me as the inside of my closet. This is because I didn’t grow up in a normal home. I grew up in Budapest, Hungary, an ocean away from the USA, where my parents are from. My childhood consisted of traveling to countries all over the world with my parents, so the thought of staying in one place for the entire four years of college terrified me. Living in a small town like Anderson, South Carolina, while enjoyable, is outside of my comfort zone. So, when sophomore year started and I felt that familiar itch right between my shoulder blades, the one that tells me that I either need to see some place new or do something drastic, like chop off my hair and dye it pink (it’s happened before and I really would rather not go back there again, it was not a good look for me), I began checking out my options.
I had considered study abroad before, but it had never seemed like a viable option with the huge price tag and the countless hours of work that goes into it. Then I talked to a friend who had just gotten back from a semester in Uganda. I could see that it had changed her. She didn’t deny that it was a hard road to getting on a plane for a semester abroad, but she also assured me that it was worth it. That night, I emailed our study abroad advisor to set up an appointment for the next week.
I went into that meeting a little nervous, but after talking to my advisor for a good hour and a half, I knew that I was making the right decision. She talked me through the specifics of applying for study abroad and gave me a few ideas about programs I could look at. She even made a file for me, because she “could tell that I was going to make it.” I was thinking about going to Dublin at the time, but I noticed on CAPA’s website that they have a Creative Arts Certificate Program in London that offered more literature courses than their Dublin program. I was obviously torn, so I did the normal thing and called my older sisters. They had a very simple question to solve my dilemma: “Would you prefer to date an Irish man or an English one?” They’ve been trying to set me up for years, but I haven’t caved yet! Their question didn’t help me choose, but it did help me laugh and reminded me that either decision is a good one. I eventually chose London, and that’s when the work truly began.
When people tell you that study abroad is hard work, they are not messing around. Between classes, paperwork, and assorted meetings, my spring semester was the busiest one I have had yet. This is also probably because I was trying to get everything done before I left the country for South Africa for a few months (a helpful tip: never plan another international internship when you are prepping for study abroad). Despite the craziness, spring semester was also my favorite from my entire college career so far. I was making my life my own in a way that I never had before.
I grew up traveling because of my parents’ jobs, but this time it was for me. I was doing all of the preparation on my own. It was terrifying. Applying for a visa was the worst part. What if I messed it up? At the time, my other internship was in full swing and I had next to no free time to send in my visa application. I had done this process countless times over the years while I lived in Hungary, but this time it wasn’t on my parents to do everything right, it was up to me. My future was mine to claim or wreck. Not to be too cheesy, but I think that’s what college is about. Discovering yourself through reclaiming your past in ways that may surprise you. For me, that was choosing to study abroad. I really did want to try to stay all four years in Anderson, but after a while in that tiny town I realized that claiming the part of me that needs to travel isn’t giving up on the settled future that I think I want.
I just bought a new suitcase and attached my trusty owl luggage tag, which has been with me longer than most of my current friends. I’m ready to go. Study abroad is a big decision, and a terrifying one, too. However, it is also an amazing opportunity to discover what is waiting on the other side of an airplane door. Studying abroad means different things for different people, but for me, it means taking a piece of my past into my future and making it all my own. All that’s left to do is pray that my suitcase isn’t overweight and claim my boarding pass, GSP to LHR printed in familiar little black letters.
Genevieve Rice is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An English Literature major at Anderson University, she is studying abroad in London this semester.
Genevieve's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.