Back From Abroad: What Next?
Last fall I had the incredible opportunity of studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. Not only did I feel like I was stretched and challenged academically, I felt as though it was one of the most notable periods of personal growth I have ever had. You can read about some of my experiences here and here.
However, now that I’m back in Hanover and to my regular routine of classes and athletics, I find myself missing my time in Europe. I often feel left with a sort of “homesickness” for my time there, the time spent in a country that I came to know as home, even if it was for a brief period of time. I was glad to learn of a special course offering this term called “What’s in Your Shoebox: Unpacking Your Study Abroad Experience”. Taught by two professors, “What’s in Your Shoebox” encourages students who studied abroad, like me, to take the time to unpack the lessons and experiences we had while away from campus.
Anthropologist Bruce La Brack writes that students often come back from studying abroad and store their experiences in a mental “shoebox”, stowing them away and rarely taking the time to carefully dissect them. The class has two main goals, first to “provide [students] with the opportunity to revisit, unpack, and deeply reflect upon your recent study abroad experience” and secondly “to identify creative, practical, and meaningful ways to apply this new knowledge and awareness”.
The class is structured around open, honest discussion. While we are only three weeks into spring term, it has become obvious that every single person in this class has had a very different experience with their time abroad. This class is helping me understand that my abroad experience was, at times, challenging. Moving halfway around the world with a group of students that I didn’t know that well was an adjustment from my everyday life on campus in Hanover. Furthermore, there were times during my travels that I was tested emotionally and mentally. This class inspiring me to take what I’ve learned from those experiences and apply them to my life back in North America.
Our class will culminate in either a digital or hard-copy scrapbook of our memories, lessons and time abroad. Not only will this be a beautiful memento of my term spent in Europe, but a reminder of the important lessons that time taught me.