What I Learned About Traveling, the World, and Myself While Studying Abroad

Alyssa Malak Blogging

About a week prior to beginning my internship with Michigan Creative, I touched down on US soil after 4.5 months of studying abroad. For 4 days a week, home was Budapest, Hungary, and the other 3 were spent traveling throughout different countries across Europe. About an hour into my flight back to Detroit, I began to think about how I was going to answer the first question that I knew everyone was going to ask me, “So how was your trip?” 

I concluded that it was impossible to describe the ups and downs of the travel rollercoaster that occurred in each of the 14 countries I visited to someone who was not right there with me. So, I began to highlight a few of the realizations I had while traveling; the most one appreciated being the ability to “live in the moment.”

I knew studying abroad would open my eyes to new people, places, and experiences. However, I didn’t realize how much my mindset would change. I have become far more attuned to diverse cultures. After being able to experience cultures of different countries, like those from Norway to Turkey, and several in between, I realized that you either solidify your beliefs and opinions, or begin to question them and start adopting new ways. I have gained a better understanding of my own culture through a different lens. 

Roll with it

Sometimes (what seems like quite often, actually), things don’t go the way you expect them to. This forces stepping outside your comfort zone and dealing with problems head on. Whether it’s a misplaced passport, language barrier, or a stolen debit card, you learn to roll with the punches.

Another realization I made while traveling involves the internet, as well as the social media we use daily.  The use of social media makes the world seem smaller than it is. While using platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook we converse with people worldwide and feel connected. When I physically traveled to these places that I had only seen in pictures, I had a sense of uneasiness. It was not a bad feeling, but this uneasiness was something I’ve never experienced before.

Living in the moment

Most importantly, I realized it’s most essential to live in the moment. I spent the first month abroad planning, and before I knew it, my trip was half over. The moments that were unexpected and unplanned were my favorite. The coolest weekend trips were the ones where my friends and I walked the path that was slightly less traveled. Living in the now is a concept we often have a hard time accepting. Yet, doing so brings about the best surprises and fondest memories. The world is SO big, and after this trip I’m eager to see more of it.