It has now been 10 days since I have entered back into the United States, and the main thing I feel is that I miss Europe, and especially miss the people who I became friends with during the trip. The group of people who I lived with, ate with, studied with, and sweated in the Rome heat with have truly become some of my best friends. I have created so many unforgettable memories with them through the places we saw together, the activities we did, and things that we ate. I never thought that I would be able to get so close to a group of strangers so fast, and now we are planning activities for when we all arrive back in Tuscaloosa this fall. I think that being in a new place thousands of miles from home allowed us to become so close because we all struggled with a lot of the same things. I also miss the wide variety of people which I was able to meet while abroad, ranging from vacationers, to locals, and even other study abroad students from the United States. The most exciting part was when the people we talked to knew about Alabama, and gave us a “Roll Tide!”

I was also exposed to a way of life that was so foreign to the idea of how your life should be which I have been taught from a young age. In America, people are raised to go to school, get out, and get a job where they work everyday for 8 hours and then retire later in life. It was amazing to see that, in Europe, people were so much calmer and relaxed about their work. People would sit at cafes from sunrise to sunset, drinking various beverages, or spend their time shopping downtown. I certainly leaned into this relaxed way of living, spending time at a cafe almost everyday with a cappuccino, which is a drink I never liked before and am now obsessed with.

The final thing that I miss is the constant excitement of seeing and doing something new everyday. When at home and at school, I get into a routine, seeing the same things everyday and walking the same routes. In Europe, I had no where to be and all the time in the world to get there. I stumbled upon so many cool things, some being ancient monuments, and others small souvenir shops. Overall, I can safely say that studying abroad was the best thing I have ever done, and probably the best experience I have ever had. Once you lean into being a tourist and indulging in the culture of the country you are visiting, it allows you to have the time of your life. The best advice I could give when it comes to studying abroad was summarized nicely by a kayak guide in Croatia when she told us to walk around and simply “get lost.”