Hello everyone! My name is Emma and I’ll be traveling to Europe for the first time for UA’s Chemical Engineering program. To say the least, I’m very excited to study abroad and experience a different culture than my own. I thought it would be a great idea to detail my journey, as well as provide some insight as to why I chose to study abroad.
Making the Decision to Study Abroad:
Many students wonder upon entering college whether or not it’s a good idea to study abroad. I was one among many students who asked that question. Growing up, I’ve always wanted to see what the world outside of my small-town looked like. This curiosity expanded from my town, to my city, to my state, and eventually to my country. Before college started, I took a trip to China with my family to re-explore my heritage and connect with my ethnic roots. I didn’t know it then, but this trip sparked the fire inside of me to travel more and to see what the world has to offer. Upon entering the Chemical Engineering program at UA, I knew that there was a chance to study abroad for the unit operations lab. I have to say, I have waited four years of my education (since I was in the cooperative education program) to be able to take this summer course abroad. I am super enthused to explore Europe even after the program as well; but this is just a stepping stone. What a great opportunity to work towards my degree in a fun and immersive way.
The above is me in Guilin, China. Guilin is my birthplace, most commonly known for its striking mountainous scenery.
Preparation for Europe:
Traveling abroad is not a small feat; especially when it comes to the packing. I remember sitting in the Study Abroad Orientation hearing them say, “Do not overpack!” as if that slogan would have any effect on me~ a notorious over-packer. Luckily, now being two days before my departure, I was able to pack my suitcase minimally. Since the region I am going to is Denmark, I suspect the weather to be moderate 60s-70s (in degrees Fahrenheit). This is the perfect weather for me. All my UA friends always poke fun at the fact I love the colder climates; but what can I say– I’m a true Chicagoan at heart. I packed a few pants, gym outfits, oversized sweaters and crewnecks, comfy pajamas, and a hoodie. Since I’m there for a whole month, I plan to do some laundry. Quite comically, I keep reminding myself to pack lightly, knowing well that I will buy more stuff there. (I LOVE Danish fashion and European fashion in general).
Lastly, for this post, I thought it would be a good idea to share some prevalent travel thoughts with you all. Of course I am excited to travel to Europe- it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past month, but I will have to admit there’s a bit of anxiety that comes with the excitement. Many people don’t talk about this, but traveling alone to a different country can be pretty nerve-wracking. My sleep schedule in the U.S. has been a little messed up these past few days leading up to departure; as well as the tendency to overthink possible outcomes of silly travel events. However, amidst all the anxiety, it’s important to take a deep breath and ground yourself once again. Note to yourself that everything will be okay, and that you’ll have so much fun. I constantly reassure myself that if something goes wrong (like losing my luggage, or getting stopped at customs) there will always be someone to help you get through it. It’s also important to acknowledge that your anxiety is natural; and to have ways to manage it healthily are essential.