Ireland shoreline

Michaela Weidtman

Passport Europe, 2017

Michaela Weidtman
What was the scariest part about thinking about study abroad? What were you worried about before you left?

The scariest part about thinking of studying abroad was knowing that in order to go abroad I, in all aspects, had to remove myself from my comfort zone. I would be away from family, friends and home – away from what my normalcy was. In addition, I was worried that I would not be able to acclimate to the culture, people, or my surroundings. The idea of culture shock was a complete reality. Right before I left, I was worried that one suitcase for 15 weeks was not enough.

What was the best part about studying abroad?
There are so many amazing things about studying abroad. My favorite part was that because I was able to remove myself from my comfort zone and what I was used to, I was able to have the adventure of a lifetime. I found out things about myself that I never knew. I learned and practiced having patience because when being in another location, things do not always go as planned. Along with patience was appreciation, you do not realize how wonderfully different other countries and cultures are until you are there. Aside from being immersed into a variety of cultures, the best part about studying abroad would be the bonds that are made. The people you encounter, your fellow peers on the trip, and professors – everyone leaves an imprint on your mind or heart. I will never forget the memories I have from studying abroad. The stories I can tell for the rest of my life will put a smile on my face forever.

What would you say to someone who wasn’t sure about studying abroad?
For those who are thinking about it, you have to take the leap of faith. I firmly believe that studying abroad and being immersed in a culture establishes values and principles in yourself that you never saw possible. Everyone can learn something from studying abroad, but that is up to you to see what is in it for yourself. Studying abroad in any place is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not many people have. To be immersed into a different culture, especially while still in your youth, teaches you things that a classroom cannot. As you get older it is hard to pack up and travel the world for extended periods of time – take the opportunity and do it while you can. If given the opportunity, take the chance. It is totally normal to have your worries, but once you get on that flight all worries are aside and you have the adventure of a lifetime with memories to last forever.

If at all, how do you think studying abroad changed you?
Since studying abroad I have adapted a much more open mind to new ideas, adventures and experiences. I also became much more grateful for the opportunities given to me and the life I live, because you see that not everyone is fortunate enough to do so. I learned patience, appreciation, adventure, culture, money saving and cooking, all in ways I had not known previously. Being in another countries pushed my boundaries to really have me understand and adapt to my surroundings. It can be frustrating, but much more than that it is rewarding beyond belief. I see the world in a different light and I caught the travel bug. I can’t wait to learn, understand, and appreciate other cultures one day. Study abroad was just the start. I learned so much about myself, others and the world, and for that I am forever thankful that I had the opportunity to study abroad.

What was your favorite meal?
All the different cuisines are beyond delicious. My favorite would have to be a paella dish I had the opportunity to make for myself and some others on the trip when we took a cooking class in Barcelona. We went to the market and picked out fresh ingredients including spices, seafood, meats, vegetables and fruits. A professional chef taught us how to make one of the most delectable paella dishes. The cooking class was entertaining and informative, but that dish has wonderful memories attached to it.

Paella dish