Saturday, June 2, 2019

I am writing from the Toronto airport waiting to catch my flight overseas to Frankfurt and onto Zagreb! I have already had a long day of travel from Denver to Detroit to Toronto that has given me ample time to reflect on my hopes for this trip and the past few days I spent preparing.

Early morning farewell at Denver International Airport!

I have always had an interest in studying abroad as I have always been restless and unable to stay in one place for too long before wanting to move onto new locations and experiences. I knew this was a part of college I did not want to miss out on but had trouble acclimating to classes as an out-of-state student my freshman year and was worried I was short on time to study abroad as I entered the second semester of my sophomore year. I got an email regarding Culverhouseā€™s new faculty-led economics program in Croatia shortly after declaring economics as a second major. I was lucky that I did not have to spend time researching program options and that all the pieces fell into place for me. UA in Croatia felt like the perfect program because it was over the summer so I would not have to rearrange my semesters last minute, it was organized through the university so my credit would transfer seamlessly, and it presented opportunities to see many countries surrounding Croatia as well. Upon meeting with my advisor and learning that I could apply my merit scholarship to the program, I was all in. Traveling abroad can be a large financial undertaking so my ability to fund the program through existing scholarships as well as campus study abroad scholarships and grants made this feel like a chance I could not pass up.

An amazing summer job in Colorado kept me busy and distracted until three days before my departure so I did not spend a large amount of time preparing. It felt as if I barely had time to refocus and complete last minute errands for luggage locks and sunglasses before I had to zip up my suitcase with whatever I had thrown in and head to the airport. I have not been worried about mentally adjusting since I have never been uncomfortable being on my own in foreign places. The materialistic preparation was my largest priority. Since I departed from Denver at 6 am today and will not land in Zagreb until 3 pm tomorrow, I came prepared with dry shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and compression socks to get me through so many hours of flying.

Toronto meet up with my Bama Bound roommate to brave the overseas red-eye together!

My thoughts have primarily been centered on holding my breathe that my suitcase would transfer seamlessly and none of my flights would be delayed. It is only just now setting in that I will be in Europe in a matter of hours and I have no idea what to expect or what my group will decide to do first. I have been staying forward-focused and thinking about all the time I will spend with my classmates more than I have thought about all my friends and family I am leaving behind so I am getting extremely excited for the friends I know I am going to make. I know this time will fly by and I will back soon enough so my biggest fear is not being able to try everything I want to.

I have not set any specific goals for my trip because I do not know what to expect. I am excited to meet our second professor and learn about his Croatian perspective on macroeconomics in comparison to the American perspective I have learned in Alabama but I just hope to absorb as much of the culture as I can. Primarily, I am grateful for any amount of exposure and knowledge I can gain from this trip and reflecting on how fortunate I am to have such supportive parents, family, and friends that see the value in this experience and helped set me up for success in the next few weeks.

Now onto Europe!

Brand new passport is ready for lots of stamps the next three weeks.