Farewell to the ‘Cac until next Fall
It’s that time of year again.
Second semester juniors are starting to gear up to head back to their various New England small liberal arts colleges, welcomed by new freshman (January admits), unfamiliar upperclassmen who the freshmen have never seen before (yes, people returning from their semester abroad) and fresh snow (well, we would hope so at least considering we all decided to go to college in the northeast). However, a small contingency of Juniors will not be returning to their various campuses for their spring semesters and instead have opted for something that will lead to exciting adventures, new people, and exotic countries.
Studying abroad is a privilege that most ‘Cac students are fortunate enough to take advantage of during their four-year college career. (Yes, most colleges and universities offer a study abroad option, but for the purpose of this blog I’ll stick to all-things-’Cac). A lot of freshmen enter college with the preconceived notion that they have to study abroad, but as we upperclassmen know all too well, silly freshmen know very little when they arrive at school. For those who always believed they’d spend a semester or perhaps even a year (GASP!) studying at a foreign university, dreams of distant and exotic countries filled their minds much like sugar plum fairies during the holidays (or so we’re meant to believe). So as the beginning of the new semester approaches, anxious juniors are frantically organizing duffle bags, locating passports, and preparing for what could be the best semester of their lives.
Disclaimer: I am aware that some people choose not to study abroad for whatever personal reason and I fully support and respect their decision. However, I am a junior studying abroad in Sydney, Australia next semester, so all the haters can suck on that one.
Stories I’ve heard from friends returning from overseas run deep with lust, adventure, and experience. My friend Paige (who goes to some Ivy up near Hamilton College but shall remain nameless…) just returned from an incredible semester spent in London (not to mention the 10 other countries she visited during the months she spent studying). There, she met an Olympic rower, studied economics at the University of London, and inter railed across the Eurozone. From Facebook-stalking her pictures alone, I can only imagine the experience and knowledge she gained about not only the world, but about herself as well.
Study abroad isn’t just about attending another university in a another country; it’s about exploring and risk-taking, learning both about the world and yourself in tandem. Everyone says that college is a time to be independent, etc., but traveling abroad, especially when you know few to no other students on your specific program can pose an exciting challenge. This is the time when you are thrown into the metaphorical water and you can either sink or swim. Nothing can compare to moving to a different country without your family and with an open mind, ready to conquer whatever may come your way. Hamilton’s motto is, in fact, “Know thyself,” so I can’t think of a better way to fulfill this phrase than to throw myself into a completely new and different situation.
I have the utmost confidence in myself (and others) that we will find our individual ways next semester wherever the wind (or an insanely expensive flight) will take us. I will be attending the University of Sydney in Australia and know no one else in my program, so hollaaa if you’ll be there next semester! Gotta represent the ‘Cac down unda’.
So, after much rambling and self reflection, I have come up with a few (hopefully) helpful key points of advice for future juniors who plan to study abroad: bring an open mind and an adventurous attitude; be ready for whatever comes your way; don’t take for granted any opportunity you stumble upon because you may never get the chance to do whatever it is again; and oh, DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT!
To follow my adventures, you can follow me @TheLeinbacher or my Aussie blog: http://theleinbacher.tumblr.com/