By Jaci Schneider, Opinion Editor
Much Ado About Something
This day last year, I was chasing my professor through the streets of Oxford trying not to miss my train to Dover. Today, I will chase tennis balls across the court during class and then try not to be late for Chapel.
I spent last fall break exploring the canals of Venice, swimming in the Mediterranean and traipsing through the city of Rome while wearing a toga. This year I will spend two nights in San Antonio and try to catch up on schoolwork.
I love my life right now. I enjoy spending time with my friends and I love being at ACU. But a big part of me wishes I still lived in Oxford, England, in a house with a blue door, filled with 19 awesome people.
I wish I still had to walk 20 minutes to buy bread and milk. I wish I still had to take a bath every morning because the shower only sprayed cold water. And I wish I could still buy my fruit and vegetables at a market where vendors called me “love.”
Spending the semester in Oxford was the most amazing experience I’ve had in my 20 years of life. Not only did I get to travel through nine different countries in four months, I experienced a new culture first-hand and formed relationships that will most likely last well beyond my college years.
Any student can study abroad in Oxford, England, or Montevideo, Uruguay, for a semester, or just a few weeks. Many students choose not to study abroad because of the cost, which is about $3,000 more than a semester on campus (less for shorter trips). This may seem like a lot of money, but it is well worth it. The cost covers airfare, housing and group trips for four months. When else in your life will you be able to live in another country in a furnished house with your friends while earning college credits?
Traveling, of course, adds to the check, but that’s something you can control. In the group I traveled with, students spent from $1,500 to $4,000 in additional expenses. That includes food for a semester, traveling costs and souvenirs.
I know it still seems like a lot of money, but it is most likely the best time in your life to go. When you get old, you’re not going to want to sleep in hostels and eat crackers for days on end. But as young backpackers, it’s all part of the experience.
It can be scary to leave your home country for four months. Although I was more excited to live in England than frightened, I was scared to death of staying in hostels. And you know, I did have a few scary experiences, but each one taught me something new about myself and the world around me. I now look back on my hostelling experiences with amazement and excitement. It’s been awhile since I packed my sheets and 10 days worth of clothes into a backpack and made a mad dash to see the sights, and I miss it.
I miss the uncertainty and adventure. I miss the little things, like the joy of meeting a fellow American traveler on a crowded train and discovering the many delectable flavors of gelato (Italian ice cream) offered in Italy.
Throughout my whole study abroad experience, I learned to trust in God, how to be more outgoing and how to live with 18 housemates without going crazy.
I learned about myself because I made the choice to put myself in uncomfortable situations. I had a few frightening experiences, but 10 times as many absolutely incredible adventures that I never would have had if I had stayed in the United States.