It’s hard to describe study abroad. It’s a unique experience and one I highly recommend. When in your life will you have the freedom to take 5 months and travel the world?
I spent my last semester in Vallendar, Germany, a small city along the Rhine. I traveled to 15 different countries, checking several items off my bucket list. I stayed in grungy hostels, drank wine in snow covered Tuscany, and skied in the Alps. I traveled with amazing friends, stressed over school, and rode camels in the desert. From the stressful to the unreal, the delicious to the crazy, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my time in Europe.
List of countries: Iceland, Scotland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, England, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Portugal, Morocco
My favorite place in Germany is a tie between Munich and Berlin. Munich is gorgeous and historic. I dressed up in traditional Bavarian clothes and went to Frühlings Fest (like Oktoberfest), drinking steins of beer and eating giant pretzels. The city has some of the most beautiful gardens and bike paths to explore, as well as the dark history of Dachau. Berlin was also incredible. History really comes alive as you stand between East and West Berlin. The city is also full of young lively Germans and plenty of fun places to eat and drink.
Outside of Germany, a few bucket list items were skiing in the Alps and riding a camel in the desert. Two things I had dreamed of ever since learning about study abroad in high school. It was quite the journey getting to Chamonix, France, a beautiful resort town nestled between France, Italy, and Switzerland. You can ski in 3 countries at once under the shadow of Mount Blanc. I can only describe it as unreal. In Morocco I had the chance to tour the deserts near Marrakech on camel back. The city is lush and full of green trees and flowers but just outside the city is a palm tree desert. I experienced the most culture shock in Morocco but am thankful for the chance to expand my horizons and find beauty in the differences.
Little known fact, study abroad does actually consist of studying. I went to WHU, a small business school in Northern Germany. It’s a competitive environment and classes were not easy. It was a change from UT because class was graded differently with only the final exam counting for a grade. This allowed for more travel during the semester but more stress during finals week. I also took the opportunity to learn German. I highly recommend taking the time to study the language of your host country as it helps you better connect with locals.
It’s hard to go alone to a foreign country for 5 months, leaving your friends and family behind. But it can be incredibly rewarding. It teaches you to be brave and independent. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone and expands your cultural knowledge. It gives you more compassion for people and pride in yourself. Not to mention the incredible stories and memories you will bring home. It is worth taking the leap, and it’s easier to do with a house full of sisters behind you, giving you tips and tricks for how to create the best experience.
The University of Texas gave me the opportunity and Kappa Delta gave me the confidence.
Lindsay Leach (PC’16)