I started going away by myself in 1992; my very first trip abroad was to Munich. For the Harry Potter fans/geeks out there, I’m
Ginny Weasley’s age. I started learning German (and English) in grade 6 and I spent a fortnight in Bavaria to get comfortable with the language. Afterwards, I’ve been in German or English speaking countries every year to improve my knowledge of both languages. My very first job was actually in Leipzig; I worked in a hotel for a month.
By the time I moved to Ireland on September 14 2001, as an exchange student via the Erasmus program, I had spent an average of 1 month a year in 7 different countries. I loved my experience in Limerick. Culture, mythology, places, studies. It was wonderful. So much so that as soon as I was back I applied to leave the next year and spend a year in Germany. It wasn’t to happen because the university wanted to give an opportunity to other students to study abroad. Fair enough. Still I moved to Canada in August 2004 and only came back a few months ago.
There’s something liberating about moving abroad, particularly when you’re alone and a young adult. You’re on your own.
1) Your parents aren’t there to tell you what time to be home. I guess that applies to anyone who studies away from home but with a 6 hour time difference, mum and dad won’t be calling to check you’re there.
2) You have to do things by yourself: no mum to do your laundry or organise it, to cook your food or prepare your school lunches (I was already doing that but my year in Ireland was a catastrophe in terms of healthy eating. My first year in Canada, a lot better).
3) You don’t have to live your life according to other people’s expectations and rules: they don’t know you at all. You can essentially recreate who you are or reclaim it.
4) It’s an amazing opportunity to discover new cultures, new places, new hobbies. You can spread your awareness of other people, of issues that aren’t discussed where you come from.
On the other hand, it’s scary and alienating.
1) It’s hard to figure out how to belong, particularly if you’re a shy person. And sometimes people don’t make it easy.
2) You’re on your own: what if you fall? Your parents won’t be here – physically – to help you stand up. You have to grow in a very different way. At the end of the day, it’s amazing but darn is it terrifying sometimes.
And I would do it all over again. Hell I just did.
Sure I moved back to my own country but really I’m thinking it might only a step onto something else. UK, Germany, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium: easy picks since between the two of us, my husband and I have a good understanding of the official languages. But really why stop there? The world is out there to be discovered. Why stay in one place? Although to be fair I might change my mind the day we have kids.
Source : A Word Advanture http://bit.ly/193grUE
Photo : theprospect.net