It has been 2 weeks since I came back from my study abroad trip. My family has stopped asking me questions about my journey and my friends are professionals at making fun of me every time I bring up what I did in Croatia. Even though the lingering effects of my trip may seem to have disappeared to those around me, I still find use in what I saw and experienced during my first trip outside of the US. 

The main takeaway I still think about from my trip is how important it is to enjoy what’s going on around you. Even though I am sitting in my bedroom instead of on the coast of the Adriatic, I know that this will likely be my last summer without a full time job, so there is no use in complaining as opposed to enjoying the free time that I have left.

Additionally, studying abroad has taught me how to be a more inclusive and innovative thinker. For example, I traveled to Croatia, where American tourists make up a very small minority of those who travel to the country. Since my return, it has been easier to think of the world in a more holistic view where Americans are not the default. I'm studying political science and economics, so learning to be world-minded is a skill that I will use countless times throughout my professional career.

Finally, studying abroad helped teach me that there are no good or bad cultures, just different ones. There are definitely food items I miss from Croatia, the same way I missed Bluebell ice cream while abroad. For all the things I didn’t like about the country, there is someone from there who misses it every time they leave. Certainly there are things people hate about my hometown of New Orleans that I will defend with every fiber of my being. So when traveling abroad, remember that returning home won’t be easy, but don’t squander the opportunities you’ll have when you get back.