Five years ago today, I was a 4th year architecture student setting out for adventures as an exchange student to Krakow, Poland. Even looking back now, I never realized how influential studying abroad would be to my life. It has created a love for travel and culture that I probably never would have tapped into otherwise. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and into some amazing experiences. We used to joke that communications at home would never again be a struggle after fighting through language and cultural barriers abroad.
I distinctly remember it was Valentine’s Day the day I arrived in Krakow. Our group of thirteen American students landed at the airport and met our program coordinators Anna and Bartec. They arranged transportation to our dorm at the Polytechnic and then sent us off to the City Center with a group of Polish students to find dinner. Just imagine extreme exhaustion and jetlag combined with being completely disoriented. It was almost impossible to find a place to eat- it was Valentine’s Day of course. Every restaurant was packed with couples and candles celebrating. After an hour of wondering around we finally settled into a tiny perogi house for traditional polish dumplings and borche. I remember the tables were set with platters of bread and lard (yes, lard) for appetizers.
That was the start of a semester long adventure.
Living with Less
Learning about myself
I’m a girl that’s in love with the world
And all the people and places in it
Happy Valentine’s Day World
Here’s to my lifelong romance with you.
And now for a short PSA: If you are a high school or college student: STUDY ABROAD! Find a way to make it happen. Get a job, get a second job, save your money, shop at thrift stores. Do whatever it takes to get yourself there. You will not regret it- I promise. Open yourself to the adventure and see where it takes you. Meet people you never would have otherwise. The world is a big place and you deserve to experience a slice of it. Get out there.