Indiana University Overseas Study

Archive for the ‘Study Abroad’ Category

Keeping an Open Mind

Emily Blankenhorn - Berlin, Germany

Before I left for Berlin, many people told me to make sure I kept my money and purse secure once I arrived. They told me to get a purse with metal in the strap so that nobody could cut it or rip it off my body. They told me to make sure I wear my purse underneath my shirt so it wouldn’t be noticed. They told me to wear all black as to not stand out as a tourist in order to avoid being stolen from. They told me to speak quietly so as not to draw attention to me being a foreigner. There are many ways people told me to take care of myself in order to prevent pick-pocketing.

Listening to all this advice, I was fairly certain I would be totally fine, but I was still a bit nervous that I would stand out as a tourist to anyone who targets foreigners. Even just walking through the airport before reaching Germany, I would make sure my hand was on my purse at all times to make sure it was still there. There are many things you can do in life to prevent unfortunate things from happening to you. Sometimes, life happens anyway. On my way to Berlin, I landed in New York first for a layover. As we reached the ground and I turned my phone off airplane mode, I received a text from my bank. They were asking me if I had just spent $226 at a Super Wal-Mart on my debit card, to which I promptly responded no.

My bank locked my card right away, but I thought that it was incredibly ironic that my debit card information had been stolen in the U.S. right as I was headed to a country in which I was nervous about getting my money and cards stolen. Furthermore, after living in Berlin for a month, none of my or my classmates’ belongings have been stolen. The people in charge of my study abroad program say it is rare to have something stolen, but obviously to look after your belongings in a smart way.

Overall, it’s easy to be afraid of what we don’t know. Sometimes we can focus too much on preventing the bad and then end up overlooking other important things. Maybe I left my debit card out somewhere and someone somehow got the information or maybe someone rigged an ATM or a gas station pay machine, I’ll never know. Bad things can happen to anyone anywhere and at any point in time. There’s no use living your life in fear of the unknown. A lot of the time the unknown is good.

Many people in Berlin are very friendly and helpful to new people, as Berlin is a city composed of people from all over the world. More than 30% of Berlin’s population are immigrants. Many languages are spoken and many religions are practiced. Although I may not recognize a language or an activity customary to someone else’s culture, I feel just as safe in this city as I did at home in a place of familiarity. I have found the most joy in life when keeping an open mind about people and cultures unfamiliar to my own.

Emily Blankenhorn

Immediate Anxieties and Long-Term Goals

Christy Margeson - Nagoya, Japan

As the rollercoaster of a year that was 2016 neared its end, sweeping without pause into the next, just as swiftly did my living environment evolve. During the second week of January, I moved out of the dorm and in with my first-ever host family. Commuting to class is inevitably more cumbersome—an hour-long commute via train, compared to my previous two-minute walk to campus—but I would wager that those who have lived with a host family would almost unanimously agree that lengthy commutes are a small price to pay for such a unique, intimate cultural immersion.

I’ll be the first to admit that it was quite intimidating moving into a Japanese-only (very little to no falling back on English) household with a family I had never met before—I still sometimes find myself clamming up at the dinner table when they speak a little too quickly, constantly doubting my listening abilities. However, even after my short time here, I’m already finding myself more deeply immersed in Japanese culture than I could have imagined while living in the dorm.

I sometimes watch Japanese variety shows, for instance, with my host family after dinner; these programs are simultaneously ridiculous, and so quintessentially Japanese—as well as a convenient way to stay up-to-date on Japan’s pop culture—that I’m not sure how I got by without watching them before. Some other perks that I’ve come to appreciate are my host family’s comfy 炬燵(kotatsu) during this cold winter—which is basically a low wooden table covered by a futon and table top with an electric heater underneath—as well as being able to enjoy two delicious meals prepared daily by my generous host mother. These are only a few examples of the benefits of homestay. Moreover, and possibly most importantly, I’m experiencing cultural exchange and language practice in a warm, friendly environment every day. From what little I’ve tasted of the homestay lifestyle so far, I’m finding that it truly is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for which I’m extremely grateful.

炬燵 (kotatsu)

Of course, there are aspects of my freedom that I had in the dorm that I don’t have with my host family—I am living in someone’s home, after all, and have to abide by certain rules. However, despite my anxiety about speaking only Japanese at home, I feel as though I’m beginning to leave shallow waters, wading out into the deep end and embracing immersion more fully. I hope that if I’m able to grab my trepidation by the horns, I’ll be better able to achieve my long-term goals with the language.

Beyond the immediate benefits and anxieties involved with my switch to a homestay, I’m also interested in exploring the idea of long-term goals for foreign language learning. I can only speak from personal experience, holding onto the glimmer of hope that others might be able to relate, at least a little.

To me, language acquisition might just be one of the most mysterious, fascinating concepts I’ve ever encountered. Each small triumph when communicating in your foreign language of choice can make you feel ready to conquer the world; contrarily, a single mishap or confused interaction can leave you despairing, wondering if all of this mental labor is really worth it. I realize that this probably seems pretty melodramatic, but when you’ve been studying a foreign language for as long as I have, it becomes easy to question whether you’ll ever actually, finally reach your long-term goals.

If you were to ask any scholar about foreign language learning, they would undoubtedly reassure you that the benefits stemming from studying language are plentiful. According to an article by Anne Merritt of The Telegraph, foreign language learning provides a plethora of unexpected mental benefits, such as improved memory, decision-making skills, perception, etc.

However, when it comes to the actual study of language as an adult—especially when this is added to the attempt to simultaneously acquisition not only with the language, but also with its culture and people—these long-term benefits can often be overshadowed by the overwhelming mental strain of it all.

While I’ll admit that there’s always a small part of me wondering whether I’ll actually feel satisfied with my language skills, there’s also an equally strong part of me that’s excited to watch myself grow with Japanese. I’m coming to realize that when it comes to language learning, there will always be good and bad days; days where everything you want to say actually makes its way out of your brain and into spoken, grammatically-coherent sentences, when communicating in that language feels like one of the most natural things in the world, and days where you feel extremely frustrated with yourself and your surroundings, wanting to crawl away and hide when you botch a conversation with someone, or hear yourself mispronouncing something or saying something completely wrong, but somehow feel unable to correct yourself in real-time.

This past semester has proven to be one of the most difficult of my life. Of course, it goes without saying that the classes were challenging—my Japanese classes in particular were very demanding of my time, energy, and mental stamina. However, I don’t believe that one is ever done learning a subject, and my study of Japanese is no exception. Wading deeper still into cultural immersion, I find myself finally in waters so high that my feet no longer touch the floor—which leaves me no other option but to keep swimming.

Christy Margeson

Lost Luggage and Life Lessons

Philip Jiao - Canterbury, England

“There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

I had always been very lucky with traveling and never losing any luggage, but I still imagine the scenario of losing luggage whenever I travel and pack an extra set of clothes with my carry-on. I flew with Aeroflot from Beijing to Moscow, then from Moscow to London. Because of the two-hour-long delay in Beijing, I only had half an hour to transfer. I tried my best to catch my flight to London; however, my luggage didn’t run as fast as me and it stayed in Moscow.

Canterbury Cathedral

The Canterbury Cathedral, built in the 11th century and is the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

My first week was tough. Two sets of changing clothes were everything I had and I had to do laundry every day in order to make sure that I had fresh clothes to wear for the next day. My mental health was also affected by my lost luggage; during orientation events, I thought and worried about my luggage, prayed that it would be delivered to me as soon as possible.

Canterbury cathedral interior

Interior of the Canterbury Cathedral

After all the difficulties, the phone calls and anxious waiting, my suitcase was finally returned to me six days after my arrival. During the time of waiting, I learned many life experiences, which made me understand that losing luggage wasn’t entirely terrible. First, I know what to do next time in the situations of flight delay and missing luggage, and I won’t be as panicked or nervous as this time. Second, a suitcase is not the only thing I have; there are friends and family who are always there to help me. There’s always a solution for things, and I should not lose the enthusiasm to live and eat even when a suitcase is completely lost. And finally, I tried my best to make new friends and they provided lots of help and encouragement.

Dover Castle

On the last day of Orientation, the University organized a trip to Dover Castle. It is the biggest castle in England and is located on an extremely strategic spot to protect the English Channel. Some American friends and I chose a wonderful angle to take a picture with the whole castle.

If you confront similar situations in the future, don’t be depressed, don’t be afraid to ask people for help, and always be optimistic that things will just be fine!

Dover Castle roof

Selfie on the roof of Dover Castle

Philip Jiao

The Ticking of the Clock

Emily Blankenhorn - Berlin, Germany

The ticking of the clock fills my mind. Today’s date posted in the bottom right hand corner of my computer weighs on me. I feel anxious. I am anxious to leave my family, pack the right things, and fly alone to a city where I don’t even know the language. But most of all, I feel eager. I am eager to be more independent, make life-long friends, travel to and explore amazing cities, take interesting classes, and try new foods.

There are four days until I leave Cincinnati, OH and fly to Berlin, Germany. As a pre-departure protocol, I am eating at my favorite Cincinnati places: LaRosas pizza, Skyline Chili, and Graeter’s ice cream. I am also spending a lot of much-needed time with my family and friends. The fact that I will be away from them for over five months hasn’t yet sunk in, and I am not sure when it will. Maybe when I’m waving goodbye at the airport, or maybe when I arrive at TXL and hear more foreign languages than familiar ones.

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to prepare for what life will be like in Berlin. There are a multitude of sights and attractions that I can’t wait to see. From the Brandenburg Gate to the Berlin Wall Memorial, I will not be ashamed of how touristy I will be during the beginning of my time living in the city. On the other hand, I am looking forward to getting to know the city as a civilian. Over the 5 months and 19 days that I will be spending overseas, I hope to better understand what life in Berlin is like beyond the point of a visitor. I want to know what the local Germans do for fun on the weekends and after classes and what the best diamond-in-the-rough restaurants are. Overall, I look forward to calling Berlin home.

Even though I am anxious, my eagerness for adventure overshadows all the other thoughts I have. I will miss IU and my friends dearly, but I can’t wait to make some amazing memories while I’m away.

Emily Blankenhorn

Acclimating

Christy Margeson - Nagoya, Japan

“Imagine every possible emotion you might have when starting school in a foreign country, and I’ve felt it. Joy, excitement, dread, homesickness…” These are the words I found when flipping through my study abroad journal, penned in my own hand, marked one week into the beginning of my classes. The apprehension about starting anew in a foreign country is one thing to deal with, but words fail to describe the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve actually experienced since my plane touched down in Nagoya, Japan.

Let’s talk about culture shock. Google defines culture shock as the following: “The feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” An intense experience—in theory. But a simple Google definition can’t seem to pack quite the same punch as the real deal. Personally, I am definitely still in the midst of becoming accustomed to my new life in Japan. I’m in this strange interstitial place of cultural acclimation where some things are beginning to become second-nature (for example, hearing and seeing Japanese everywhere I go; I was in the post office the other day and heard one of the employees suddenly speak in English, and had a moment of total disorientation!), while others remain shrouded in total mystery to my American mind.

Despite having studied the language for about four years, I sometimes blank on Japanese in the grocery store, or at a restaurant—much to my regular embarrassment. No matter how well someone tries to sum it up, or how succinct the Google definition, words simply can’t describe the rollercoaster of emotions involved in a single day trying to adjust to a new culture—joy at successfully communicating with a native, embarrassment when you panic and your language skills suddenly turn into gibberish, the sheer excitement of being somewhere new and meeting different and interesting people everywhere you turn.

All of these opposing emotions are wrapped up into each new experience abroad, complete with an obnoxious, fluorescent bow. I’ve been in the country for about a month now, and it’s insane how time has been passing; every day seems so long and full of excitement, but then I look back and feel like it’s all passing so quickly. I simultaneously feel as though I’ve been here forever, and also like I’m a total fresh-faced newcomer. I suppose in a way I encompass both of these things.

Nagoya Castle exterior

The first building you encounter when you enter the site. The mossy pit used to be a moat around the castle.

It amazes me daily how my life here is feeling more natural bit by bit, when the culture is so very different from what I’m used to. One of the most quintessentially Nagoya experiences I’ve had so far was visiting Nagoya Castle(名古屋城), the center of one of the most important castle towns during Japan’s Edo Period(江戸時代). For those of you unfamiliar with Japanese history—or if you’re simply curious—the Edo Period was when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate(徳川幕府), the final feudal samurai government. The excursion to the castle was put on as a field trip for the international students at my school, Nanzan University; the kind Japanese student volunteers led us about the site in groups, explaining the different buildings and rooms. There seemed to be a million different things to absorb, as everything was so delicately ornate and detailed. It was a truly dazzling experience that left me in awe, remembering—through all my rollercoaster culture shock emotions—that I really am in Japan, and what an incredible opportunity I’ve been presented.

Castle Interior

The interior walls were covered in breath-taking traditional Japanese art. Each room was used for a different purpose, which the different artwork reflect.

Throughout this whirlwind of new experiences, I also celebrated my birthday this weekend. At first, I was a little bit worried about having it so soon after coming abroad, concerned that I wouldn’t know enough people, and would just end up moping around in my room. But, I sucked it up, and asked a few friends that I’ve made since coming here if they wanted to go out to dinner this past Friday night. To my delight, they all accepted, and we went out to an izakaya(居酒屋), a very popular and a uniquely Japanese cross between a bar and a restaurant. To my simultaneous frustration and amusement, we didn’t realize until after sitting down that we could barely read anything on the menu. Making the best of the situation, we ended up ordering different dishes—with only a vague understanding of what we would actually receive—and passing them around in order to try a bit of each. I ended up having a wonderful time, and my advice to anyone worried about celebrating their birthday abroad is to try your best to take control of your own experience. Invite out the people you have befriended, or would like to become better friends with, and don’t let yourself mope around and feel self-pity. Having to celebrate birthdays and holidays abroad is the reality of many study abroad students, and a big part of the experience is accepting that it’s going to be different from your past celebrations, and that that’s okay.

Imagining every possible emotion you might experience while starting a new school in a foreign country is a tall order; experiencing those feelings is an entirely separate ordeal in itself. You can understand culture shock as a concept, look up as many different definitions as you want, and it will still never fully represent the way that everyone individually experiences the phenomenon. All that I can do is write about my personal experiences adjusting to a foreign country, and hope that other students studying abroad can relate at least a little. Although I’m still in that awkward in-between stage of acclimating to a foreign culture—where certain things are sneakily becoming second-nature, and others are still bafflingly unfamiliar—I feel hopeful that by the time I’m preparing to return home, I’ll be able to flip back through my study abroad journal and think, “I remember going through that transition—and what a stronger person I am for it.”

Christy Margeson

Goals and Apprehensions

Christy Margeson - Nagoya, Japan

I’ve been studying Japanese since I was fifteen years old, and I knew from that very first class that I would do whatever it took to visit the country of its origin someday. Utterly fascinated with the language and culture from a young age, studying abroad has been something I decided I wanted to do long before I started college. In fact, IU’s remarkable study abroad program is one of the plentiful reasons I chose to go there in the first place.

When I received the email from the Office of Overseas Study informing me of my acceptance into the Nagoya program, I was ecstatic—to say the least. It was a goal towards which I had been working towards for what felt like such a large part of my academic career; however, as my time began winding down, and the actual trip loomed ever closer, I was suddenly struck with several different fears I had not originally considered. What if my knowledge of the language fails me in social situations? What if I have a hard time making friends? What if my classes are exceedingly difficult? I sometimes felt as though I was swimming in doubt about my personal capabilities.

But when it comes down to it, those apprehensions are all part of what I believe will make up my study abroad experience. To quote cultural American icon, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter: “I get nervous when I don’t get nervous. If I’m nervous I know I’m going to have a good show.” Although I’m not about to step out onto a stage and give an amazing performance worthy of breaking the internet like Beyoncé, this piece of advice is one I’ve found myself thinking about quite often lately. This nervousness pervading my senses, to me, serves as a sign that I’m doing something right—a sign that I’m pushing myself socially, mentally, and emotionally. For me, one of the biggest aspects of studying abroad is pushing myself to grow, not only with my understanding of Japanese, but also as a person.

That’s not to say that it’s not going to be hard. Before I left Indiana, I made it a point to visit my two older sisters in Colorado, my friends in Bloomington and Indianapolis, as well as my extended family in Connersville. Saying goodbye was difficult, and in a few cases there were mutual tears shed; my mother stayed with me at the airport until I boarded the plane, and we parted teary-eyed, missing each other already. Not to mention my beloved cat whom I loathe to leave behind for an entire academic year.

But I believe that all of the difficult parts of this experience help to make it all the more meaningful. They are the parts that truly flesh out the overall big picture, the parts that are inevitable and terrifying and fantastic about any human experience. I want this study abroad experience to push me to the very limits of my capabilities, so that I can grow in all the spectacular ways one unavoidably grows when outside of one’s comfort zone. I couldn’t be more excited to immerse myself in Japanese culture and improve my skills in the language from first-hand experience; I hope to accomplish all the goals I set for myself with this experience since I was fifteen years old, and then some.

Christy Margeson

Issue, Problem, or Emergency?

Rachel Larsen - Copenhagen

Before selecting a study abroad program, I looked at the relative safety of the countries I would be studying in. I wanted to make sure my anxiety medication was legal in the country I’d be traveling to, Americans were seen as welcome visitors, and the general “street safety” of the city.

Copenhagen is considered one of the safest cities in the world.

So, imagine the surprise I felt, as well as my supervisors felt, when I came home with 2 different police reports. 6 weeks, 2 thieves, multiple strip searches, and a few panic attacks later, I feel that I am somewhat qualified to give some advice on how to deal with an uncomfortable situation, a “crisis,” and a true emergency.

Unforeseen Issues

This is the lowest form (at least, in my hierarchy) of issues when studying abroad. These are the fixable issues, like not realizing that Danes don’t use umbrellas. Legitimately, having an umbrella in Denmark is a neon sign that says TOURIST to locals. I personally don’t understand it, but you have to have a rain jacket while in Denmark to fit in. Of course, I was able to buy a really nice rain jacket for about $25 at a second-hand shop.

Other unforeseen problems include overestimating how many places take credit card instead of cash, underestimating the amount of cash you’ll need, and forgetting your keys to your kollegium when exploring the city. Doing a little extra research could prevent these issues, but they are all remedial in the long run.

“What a disaster!”

If you’re initial reaction is “that sucks,” it might be a problem, not necessarily an emergency. My first experience of theft in Copenhagen was my cell phone at a Red Bull diving competition. The event and all transport to the area was packed, making it easy for someone to tear into the front of my bag and steal my student ID, medication, and cell phone.

I was completely freaking out. I was terrified to tell my parents that it was gone, then realized I had no way to tell them anyway. I cried the whole way home. I had lost pictures and contacts and a way to contact my family. What was I going to do without my phone?

I’m here to tell you that its possible. After my phone was stolen, I called the police and made a report. I emailed both of my parents and got them to cancel my phone and international usage. I filed an insurance claim.

I sat in my room and sulked for 2 days, feeling like I didn’t feel up to facing people for a while. The worst part of this particular experience was feeling unsafe in a city that raved about its security. I was mad that I’d need a new phone coming home. All of my social media accounts were blocked out because I couldn’t access my phone for secure verification. 6 weeks later and I’m still experiencing some setbacks.

All that being said, I made it. I spent another 4 weeks abroad without a phone, including a fun trip to Stockholm and a study tour to Munich. Genuinely, you can survive without it. Get to a computer and make sure to use Facebook messenger, emails, GroupMe…whatever you use to make sure to tell everyone that you’re OK, but won’t be able to stay in contact. Once you get home, you can deal with a replacement. For the time, its OK to be upset, but don’t let it ruin your time abroad.

True Emergency

After my program ended, and the day before I was supposed to fly to Los Angeles to meet my mom back in the country, my hotel room was broken into. I came back to my luggage thrown across the room, my charger adapter and all cords missing, and my backpack gone. At first, I was just frustrated, thinking of all the souvenirs I just lost. Then…total and complete panic. My backpack had my laptop, emergency money, and passport in it. I looked everywhere to see if either were spared; of course, they weren’t. So, now what happens?

1.) DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING.

The police dusted for prints as soon as they arrived. Obviously my prints will be all over the room, but you don’t want to alter any possible evidence in the room.

2.) Talk to whoever is in charge of the housing facility.

I was robbed at a hotel, so the desk attendant was the first person I talked to. She was lovely. After working there for 6 years, she had never had to fill out a break-in report or a theft report with the police. But she did the smart thing immediately, which was to…

3.) Call the police.

I didn’t have to call the police myself, thank goodness. I was a complete and total wreck. The woman at the hotel (let’s call her Beth) called the police and told them we needed someone to come and sweep for prints, check the door, and take my statement.

4.) File a police report.

I’m not going to lie, Danish police are incredibly intimidating. While our policeman wear a pretty low-key uniform, all police in Denmark wear bulletproof vests for routine calls. They also happen to be incredibly nice. While I wish that I didn’t have to give a police report at 1 am, but that’s how it happened. The police were understanding, got to the point, and gave me an immediate receipt. This is very important if you plan on making any kind of insurance claim.

5.) Call home. Call emergency number for school. Call a local.

Beth allowed me to use the hotel phone for whatever local, long distance, or in-between people I needed to call. Calling my dad to tell him what happened was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done: not just because I was crying so hard I couldn’t speak, but I knew that he would tell me the same things I already knew — “get to the embassy as quick as you can, you’re going to miss your flights tomorrow, but they’ll help you.” My parents did all they could from home, but you can imagine that long-distance reassurance wasn’t what I needed.

DIS has an emergency number for students to call if something goes wrong. Make sure to let them know what happened, where, and who to call to keep up with your status if you don’t have a phone. Make sure to let them know your next travel plans. I made sure DIS knew I was flying home as soon as I could, just so they knew to hear from me in the next 2 days from the US.

I had a couple friends from DIS that were still in the area that I emailed to let them know what happened. Victoria, a godsend during Copenhagen, kept me in mind during my travels. I made sure she knew where I was staying, my flights, and when I was leaving to country, just so if disaster struck again, I’d have someone in the area to help.

6.) Get to the Embassy WITH A PASSPORT PHOTO.

Most US Embassies open at 8 or 9 am. Be at the door WITH A PASSPORT PHOTO. I cannot stress this passport photo thing enough. I may have had a much shorter and less stressful day if I would have just gotten a passport photo before I went into the embassy. There are passport photo booths all around Europe in train stations. They are 100 kroner in Denmark (about $18).

7.) Emergency passport.

Yes, its costs quite a bit. Yes, you have to wait a few hours to get it. Yes, its only good for a few months. It doesn’t matter. Get the emergency passport the day you lose yours. As I learned in the embassy, passports have a proxy chip that is associated with the particular passport book issued to you. Getting the replacement book adds a “red flag” to your previous passport proxy chip in case someone tries to use it.

To get the emergency passport, you must fill out a few forms and provide a new passport photo (after I had been crying for about 5 hours straight, my passport photo looks like…well, I think the airport security felt really bad for me. Not like that stopped me being “randomly searched” twice, but that’s for another blog). It takes them a few hours to print out a new passport, but you get a full passport book back from the embassy. Its a different size and a little thinner, but works the exact same way as your actual passport. Make sure to note that there is a stamp in the back of the book that labels that it is a replacement passport. When leaving Europe, you will need to show this since there is no stamp to prove you legally entered Europe.

8.) Fly home immediately.

This is a personal note and many people don’t believe the same as I do in this regard, but I’m speaking from experience. Just go home. I was supposed to meet my mom for a short vacation in LA the day my passport was stolen. I couldn’t make my original flights, but could have made it to LA the next day… she and I both decided I just needed to go home.

After getting the emergency passport, I got on a train to the airport and bought the first ticket I could into the US. In all honesty, the city probably won’t matter much. Once in the states, you can catch a flight to just about any airport you need, especially if its a larger destination. Try to fly into someplace with a large number of flights leaving at all hours (LAX, JFK, Washington DC, Austin, Atlanta, Boston, O’Hare). From there, catch the next flight home and finally take a breath.

I can’t describe the mental and physical exhaustion I was feeling by the end of this journey. One of the things stolen with my passport was my emergency anxiety medication: without it, I was too scared to sleep the night it was taken, on any of the planes, during my layover, or even in the car with my mother when I made it back. I cried for about 15 hours total, only experiencing brief moments of reprieve during my travels.

I traveled 27 hours straight to get home from Copenhagen, experiencing a 1.5 hour delay in 2 different airports, being searched in the side room in Oslo, having my bags dumped in Boston, and having to go through immigration with a replacement passport.

I’m not going to lie, the experience I had has made me nervous to travel anywhere. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to leave home again, but it’s been almost 3 weeks now and I’m starting to remember all the positives from the trip. The beautiful people I met and the mental pictures I took (while most of my actual photos were lost with the laptop, they still exist in my mind).

I can’t wait to see what future adventures grant me, but I will definitely be more careful in future travels and I hope you use experiences like mine to think critically about your safety as well.

Rachel Larsen - exploring collaboration in STEM & study abroad

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