Indiana University Overseas Study

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Studying Abroad is made up of a series of moments. Some are good and some are bad, some are fun and some are tough, but each is equally essential in creating the formative and unforgettable experience you are sure to have.

In an earlier post, I discussed a defining moment for me: one that gave me the strength and courage to know that I was in fact capable of handling most anything I was sure to be faced with—not only throughout my journey abroad, but also in life.

Today I would like to talk about a different type of moment one experiences while studying abroad. The “perfectly imperfect” moment is what I like to call it.

Everyone comes into study abroad with a certain idea about how it is all going to go. They imagine pretending to hold up the Eiffel Tower, recreating the Beatle’s photo on Abbey Road, and, like me, staring in awe at the ancient and mystical Stonehenge as the sun sets beautifully behind it.

The ironic and actually wonderful reality of studying abroad is that none of these moments actually happen like you imagine. Not one.

This is not, however, a bad thing. Quite the contrary, because the moments that you do end up having are far better than you could ever have imagined. Why? Because they are yours.

For me, my perfectly imperfect moment came when I was trying to fulfill my dream of seeing Stonehenge up close and personal. The group I was with had planned a five-day trip to England, and set aside one of those days to journeying out to see Stonehenge.

We made it to the little town of Salisbury by train and decided to grab a quick bite to eat before setting to work figuring out how to get to Stonehenge from there.

We were a little worried when we discovered the visitors center had already closed for the day, but continued on, confident we could find a bus that would take us there. When we got to the bus station and began looking through the maps, two locals approached us.

Long story short, they explained that Stonehenge had closed twenty minutes prior, and that the last bus had just left for the historic site. They offered their condolences and kept on walking. Determined to still see the mystical rock structure, one way or another, we decided to ask a taxi driver if he could take us there.

That is where the adventure really began.

The taxi driver who’s cab we got into could not have been more fun or delightful. He explained to us that he would be able to take us along the highway next to Stonehenge and would slow down as much as he could for us, but that that was the best he could do.

Charmed by the driver, and excited about the prospect of seeing Stonehenge with our own eyes, no matter how far way, we agreed and began the journey.

I can’t remember the last time I smiled that much and that big for such a long time. Our cab driver should really be a full-time comedian.

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When we finally saw Stonehenge from the cab window, I will never forget the overwhelming happiness I felt in the moment.

No we weren’t up close and personal, no the sun wasn’t setting, and no it wasn’t the image I had in mind of experiencing Stonehenge, but I would not trade that moment for the world. I wouldn’t trade the adventure, the laughter, and the feeling of accomplishment we felt sitting in that cab, seeing Stonehenge. It was utterly and absolutely perfectly imperfect.

So those of you planning to study abroad, by all means, dream away. Fill your head with fantasies, but be prepared to have your fantasies surpassed with perfectly imperfect realities.

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