I began my second semester of study abroad at University of Edinburgh after flying over from Sydney, where I took classes in the six months prior. When my friends eventually found out I already studied abroad at another uni there, I was met with incredulous looks and a few “what? I didn’t even know we could do that!?”
Spoiler: me either. Northwestern has never put emphasis on students going to two different schools throughout a one year period. It wasn’t until I began my application to go abroad that I stumbled upon an additional essay to submit if you were interested in attending more than one university. In this essay, I had to detail my reasons for making this choice. I made analogies to the Neapolitan ice cream flavour and my mixed dog who is half Pekingese and half Japanese Chin. From these comparisons, I suggested that there are many examples in life where beauty is found in multi-component things. Spending my third year of studies in Sydney, then in Edinburgh, is like having the best of both worlds.
But I had rough patches too, and I won’t try to sugarcoat it or convince others that this decision of spending the whole year abroad is the best choice for everyone. Rather than fly home between my semesters, I joined my friends in a roadtrip of the east coast of Australia from Byron Bay to Cairns for three weeks in a campervan that quickly became our home, despite it being our less than luxurious accommodation. When that ended, I began feeling homesick- even moreso than when I moved in to start school at Northwestern. It has been eight months since I have stepped foot in the states, and I have a long three months left to go. Since then, I’ve fortunately had my parents visit me in Edinburgh in January which alleviated this a bit, but I can truthfully say that I miss the American culture and my friends in Texas, regardless of how much I admire the Aussie and Scot way of living. The difference that I had set to find in other countries had eventually become a longing for my sense of normalcy.
I wouldn’t change anything though. Every day I wake up grateful that I made the choice to go abroad. From July 2018 to now, I attended not only one, but two world-class universities. I experienced the tutorial system in Australia and afterwards attended another version of tutorial classes in the UK. I’ve learned from brilliant professors, whether it be about the Economics of Crime or in my Business Simulations course which is as enjoyable as it sounds. I grasped an international understanding of economics like never before when I enrolled in the Australian Economics course then signed up for a Brexit information session at the Scottish Parliament. Next month, I will be in Edinburgh feeling the firsthand impact of one of the most important political changes of this decade.
Moreover, I had fun. From learning to surf to standing up on my board conquering a wave for the first time, to trying haggis then realising that I don’t particularly like haggis and instead prefer the Scots’ neeps and tatties, has been an adventure in itself. I struggled to understand conversations with locals and their thick accents before becoming close with my peers and adjusting to the inflections in language with time. I ventured out of my comfort zone travelling to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Denmark during school breaks. In New Zealand, I faced my fear of heights by heli-hiking Franz Josef Glacier. It is during this period abroad that I’ve seen and taken photos of arguably some of the most beautiful places in the world. Needless to say, this journey has been unforgettable. The word “excitement” barely scratches the surface in describe my feeling for these last few months, yet that is what it is. I am brimming with excitement for all of this to continue because the simple things are surprisingly different in another country: listening in lecture, finalising travel plans for spring break, meeting more friends… the list is unending, as is the possibilities and opportunities.