Written by Caroline Scudder, Columnist
Hello, Furman! It’s me again – yet another Furman student who has joined the “Study Abroad like changed me” club. Amidst my travels through England and Scotland, I didn’t quite grasp how much I’d been learning about myself and the world and its multitudes. After a full week of Furman classes, the lessons and experiences from being abroad have had a chance to sink in and reveal themselves to me in the smallest yet most significant ways.
Lesson #1 – It’s okay to slow down and live in the moment.
Pre-abroad I found myself constantly moving from thing to thing. It was hard for me to take time for myself and do things that helped me relax rather than feed my stress. Being abroad had natural de-stressors: walking everywhere, a constant flow of new experiences, and most of all time to reflect. Less schoolwork left more room for personal and interpersonal discussion and reflection. A less intense schedule and more time to think, ponder, and apply the knowledge we learned in our classes and from experiences and conversations with others made living in the moment not only easy but essential to the study abroad experience.
Lesson #2 – You’ll continuously surprise yourself by the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone.
Training for a 10k with a portion of our group, accidentally getting lost on a hike that was a solid two hours which transformed into six adventurous hours with no cell phones (a fun experience for sure), and handling international travel in itself all contributed to an enlarged level of comfort. “Surprise Yourself” by Jack Garratt quickly became a repeat on my Spotify throughout the trip and continues to be something that I remind myself.
Lesson #3 – Being your full self is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and others.
I found myself getting nervous before the trip about living day-in and day-out with people I only knew on a surface level. Considering how much time we would spend together; I was uncomfortably aware of how our group of twelve would come to know me extremely well – my odd habits, liking for deep talks, and ability to eat anything even if it was a piece of popcorn on the floor of Wembley Stadium. Being surrounded by people that not only wanted to understand how I tick but were able to accept all my quirks was one of my favorite parts of our travels. It’s true. It is the people, not the place that makes the adventure so worthwhile. And this bunch was abundant with love, acceptance, and support throughout all our adventures.
Being welcomed back by the many pages of reading has reminded me that the gift of abroad is the opportunity for living and learning as a result of that adventuring and exploration. Being with old pals and running into them spontaneously on campus feels like the warmest hugs. I finally listened to the playlist I’d made specifically for songs that embodied my abroad experience and am feeling that it is okay that Furman is not anything other than what it is. It’s a school, a series of buildings, an array of educators, hundreds of scholars, a soul-filling walk around the lake, a plate of DH chocolate chip cookies, and most of all, a space for learning that never ends.