When I signed up to study abroad in Leipzig, Germany my second semester of college I never intended to be quarantined in Texas for half of it.
At the beginning of this year, I had never lived more than an hour away from my parents, visited another country, or even been on a plane before. Everything changed when I made one of the craziest decisions of my life and flew to Germany to live in a house with 14 students I had never met for four weeks.
Luckily for me, it was also one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did I get to live and study in a country with such a rich history, but I also got to travel. I had crazy adventures like getting lost in Berlin and eating currywurst from a street cart and watching the sunset over Paris from the Sacre-Coeur. But like most things in my life, my semester abroad didn’t quite go as planned.
I was celebrating my spring break abroad with my parents and twin brother when President Trump announced the thirty-day travel ban. I called our on-site director, Lindsay Snyder, and tried to figure out the best plan of action.
This led to me scrambling around our hotel room in Frankfurt Germany at 3 a.m. trying to find a seat on the same flight back to Texas as my parents, but flights were redirected and prices were raised. Running off of pure adrenaline, and 4 hours of sleep, I finally found one ticket for a different flight going straight to Dallas and leaving in 3 hours.
I don’t think the reality of the situation hit me until I was watching Germany disappear through the plane window. I was leaving the program early and unexpectedly. I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to the strangers that had become my family or the city that had become my second home.
I was so exhausted that I couldn’t decide if I was more angry or heartbroken. When the plane touched down in Dallas I didn’t even know what I was coming back to. Before the plane ride, everything developed so quickly that I didn’t know if I would have to be tested, or put into quarantine. Thankfully I was able to get back to my hometown and settle into my self-quarantine.
I always knew coming back from study abroad would be difficult, but I never anticipated coming home in the middle of a national pandemic.
On the bright side, quarantine has forced me to take the time and look back over the experiences I had through study abroad. During one of the many Skype calls with my study abroad group Lindsay told us that it wasn’t about the time we lost, it’s about the experiences we were given.
I know a lot of us may feel cheated by our situation right now but, for me at least, it helps to remember what we were given and that our stories are not finished yet.