Before leaving my trip I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was excited of course, but was a bit worried about the packing, travel, culture shock, etc.. It was my first time being across the Atlantic, and I was going to be there for close to a month. A trip like this is typically filled with a lot of “firsts”, and mine was no different. I settled in very quickly, and was immersed in the culture just as fast. Everyone in my group immediately got along and the rest was history. My time spent abroad was easily one of the best experiences of my college career, and I would recommend it to everyone considering it. My program was based in Brussels, Belgium, the capital and center of the European Union. Brussels itself is quite small in comparison to other major EU cities, but the role it plays in international diplomacy gives it a bustling city center. Outside of Brussels, my group traveled to London, Amsterdam, and Paris; being able to travel outside of Brussels made my experience that much more valuable.
Of course, however, nothing comes without its problems. Some of the issues I was worried about prior to leaving did in fact prove to be inconveniences. Going to a country where less than half of the population speaks English can become difficult, especially when asking for directions or instructions on how some things work. I say this as an American that has failed to learn a single foreign language proficiently, so I often reminded myself that I was in their country, not the latter. Nonetheless, I never found the language barrier to be excruciating, just difficult at times. On top of that, it is true what they say about European’s and their water drinking habits. It could be very difficult at times to find water, and once I did it was typically more expensive than I was used to. It’s never brought out at restaurants, and when it is, it’s in a small glass. The things I mentioned are obviously very minor, as I’m struggling to find things to complain about.
The past month was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Having the opportunity to study in such history rich areas is something I would not trade for anything, and I look forward to traveling more in the future.