The Sh*tty Part of Studying Abroad

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‘What?! Megan, you’re crazy. There are no sh*tty parts to studying abroad!! It’s all amazing! Best month of your life?!’

Hear me out because there is one, giant, sh*tty part of studying abroad. No, it’s not the sh*tty food, no, it’s not the fact that I constantly had blisters and other open wounds on my feet due to all of the walking, no, it’s not because I couldn’t understand my host family worth a darn because of their crazy dialect, and no, it’s not even because of the fact that my roommate and I were the only ones out of our whole group without wifi at our house. None of these things were sh*tty because they were all a part of the experience, and each situation posed an opportunity to learn something new. I look back on each experience with laughter and realize just how much I got out of them, especially the no wifi deal….

But… there is still one seriously sh*tty thing about studying abroad. Are you ready?

Coming home.

That’s the only truly, sh*tty part. Sure, initially it is such a wonderful feeling to step foot back on to American soil. I almost cried when I saw my mom again after an entire month away. Don’t even get me started about my reaction when I saw my dogs. I felt like I was finally back to familiarity (because let’s be honest, nothing in a foreign country is familiar), but suddenly, even on the very first night I was back in America, I felt weird. I felt like something was missing, but I was too tired to care and crashed into my comfy bed again and embraced being back home.

However, here I am two months later, pissed. Pissed that no one told me that post-studying abroad sucks. It hurts. It’s so hard to put in to words, but it honestly feels like a part of my physical being is stuck in Spain and I’ll never get it back. Even the littlest things can set off a flood of memories and sometimes a flood of tears. It’s like the worst break-up I’ve ever been through. I find myself daydreaming of a day that we can be back together again. It scares me because that month in Spain really was perhaps the best month of my life thus far, and it’s gone. I know I got out of it as much as possible, but it all came to an end much too quickly.

So if you’re thinking about studying abroad, I will most likely say, “OMG DO IT! IT WILL BE THE BEST MONTH OF YOUR LIFE!! YOU WILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE!!!” and you will, but don’t forget what I’m saying now. Be prepared for it to really, really suck when you get home. I don’t think the post-study abroad blues will pass until I can get out into the world again.

Time to save the mula…

Megan LouAnn

To Write and To Travel

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“What do you want to do with a biology degree?”

This question is one that I hear way more than I’d admittedly like to, but that’s mostly because I’ve never really had a concrete answer to give. However, I’ve finally accepted that I probably never will have such an answer. I took a step back the other day when asked this question and instead of focusing so much on the biology degree aspect of it, I decided to alter the question into something along the lines of “What do you want to do with your life?” because, for me, that question is shockingly way easier to answer. I want to write, help people, see as much of the world as possible, meet the love of my life, and raise a family – the end. So maybe a biology degree doesn’t fit exactly into those plans, but it’s still a passion of mine and something I’m very, very good at. Being half way finished with my undergraduate career, there’s no turning back, but I have full faith that God has a plan for me. I’m done trying to make my own perfect cookie cutter plans when I know myself all too well – I will never stick to the pan, er… plan. I’m always changing, always inspired by something new, and it’s not in my DNA to be tied down into a one-shot commitment such as medical school, optometry, veterinary medicine, etc. And as they (whoever ‘they’ are) say, it’s not so much about what kind of degree you have as much as it’s about the degree itself. So from now on when faced with the dreaded question, “What do you want to do with a biology degree?”, I think I’ll smile and simply reply “Write and travel”. I’m sure I’ll receive a lot of confused looks and possibly further questions, but hey, I’ll leave it up to their imagination because at this point, their guess will be as good as mine, and that’s perfectly okay.

Spain – A Beautiful Thing

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Well well well, where to begin… As most of you probably know by now, unfortunately I didn’t get to blog at all while I was studying abroad in Spain. I had such high hopes of blogging nearly every day, but the wifi situation just wasn’t what I had been expecting, and it made it extremely difficult to legitimately get on the internet at all. Not only that, I had hardly any free time whatsoever because I was always out and about doing something which is obviously a good thing, but I’m still super bummed I wasn’t able to document my trip the only way I know how!! Just kidding, I did the old fashioned thing and wrote in my journal as much as possible, but it simply wasn’t the same.

So here I am, with many friends and family eager to know how my trip went because they haven’t been able to keep up with me on my blog (the key source to how most of my friends and especially family keep up with my crazy life), and I don’t even know where to start. Now that’s it’s all over, it’s like one giant blur of a hell of a good time floating around in my head, and I feel extremely awkward trying to spit it all back out in a logical, coherent way. I start telling random stories that made me belly laugh harder than I ever have before, but it doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. They ask if I learned a lot, and I tell them ‘Of course!’, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was that I had learned.

I’ve heard that this is a common trend among many study abroad students who have returned to the states, and I’m sure they’d all agree that it’s a very frustrating thing, but seriously, it makes sense. How in the world can someone put into words 30 days of non-stop learning, exploring, loving, living, doubting, bonding, experiencing, growing, and so on and so forth? How can one describe the initial overwhelming feeling of truly living when a view unlike any other takes their breath away? How is it fathomable that someone can describe the lifelong friendships made in such a short amount of time because you experienced a part of this crazy world together? It’s simply impossible, but in another sense, it’s absolutely, positively beautiful. Why? Because those 30 days are something so personal, so indescribable, that only I can truly remember and only I will be able to hold and cherish those 30 days in an intimate way that can’t be shared with anyone else because to anyone and everyone else, it simply will not make sense.

So friends, family, and lovely followers, all I can really say about my trip to Spain and what I’ve learned are the following things:

  • Never in my entire life have I been pushed so far outside of my comfort zone
  • The friendships I made are unlike any friendships I’ve had in the past
  • I caught the travel bug and am already researching where I want to go next
  • Change is a beautiful thing
  • Megan post-Spain is a little different than Megan pre-Spain in a good way
  • My values really revealed themselves to me
  • Sometimes not having a plan at all leads to the most beautiful things
  • I will hold those 30 days very, very close to my heart for the rest of my life

Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible; it was truly a priceless experience. Now that I’m back in the states be on the lookout for more frequent posts. June was a dryyyyyy month for meganlouann, but I have full faith that I’ll be back up and running on a regular schedule for the remainder of summer. I wish all of you a very safe and happy fourth (I’ll be stuck at work until 4pm yay….), and God bless this beautiful country that I’m lucky enough to call HOME.

Love always,

Megan LouAnn