Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

OPINION: Studying abroad enriches your education

I’ve always heard good things about studying abroad – how it changes you and your independence, expands your mind, grants you new experiences, allows you to meet new people, explore new cultures, and new languages.

Well yes, but it is so much more than just that. It enriches you as a whole person. Entirely.

I went to England in the fall of 2023. I went to England fearing the cold and the rain. I left England loving the cold and the rain… just kidding.

I chose the University of East Anglia in Norwich for its creative writing program, which has opened so many doors for me.

The networking will follow me for years to come. I have friends I can connect with overseas and get feedback on my writing. I learned how to write more creatively with confidence.

Writing creatively is vulnerable and scary, but being in UEA’s creative narratives class, I realized writers have a shared experience.

This connectedness translated to my time at Loyola. I went into my semester abroad with the intention to connect with my femininity and understand my womanhood.

And as I entered my junior year, I started questioning the gravity of being a woman and what that means for me, so I signed up for a feminist theater class.

Going into the class, I felt nervous. I complimented a girl with similar colorful eyeliner as me and tried to break out of my shell. Over the semester, we became closer. I asked a different girl next to me if she wanted to do the group project together. Another friend joined in.

The four of us came together and met up to talk about the project. It instantly and effortlessly became a deep conversation about what it means to be a woman. We talked about the hard truths. The universal experiences we all had. We realized we all had the same story. The same feelings about the same issues. We all had different ideas, but somehow, they all connected and seamlessly fit.

We were unstoppable.

By the end of the semester, I felt so close to these women that I could quite literally share anything and everything with them. They showed me love. They taught me how to overcome obstacles and fears I had. They empowered me when I needed it. We fostered a sense of sisterhood. And as a result, I became more aware of my independence and womanhood.

During my time in England, I felt inspired, unlike before. I felt comfortable. I could feel myself become smarter. There were no constraints. It was cool, and we even had smoke breaks during class.

I visited museums featuring artists who broke the status quo. I made friends with students from all backgrounds that gave me numerous ideas for future projects. I was surrounded by students who were craving the same amount of creative freedom and knowledge as me. I met professors with a brand new frame of thinking, pushing me to think differently. I learned about political differences and how English kids think about America, which is completely different from American kids. It changed how I think about America, too.

In addition to England, I was blessed enough to visit other countries like Spain, Wales, and Scotland.

In Barcelona, we walked around the city, and I attended a Palestinian protest. It was so powerful, and the people walked with such candor. It was so emotional. Vulnerable. Raw. Angry, yet calm.

I was washed over with a blanket of sulky haste and deep sadness. The energy was charged with hope for change. I took as many pictures as I could, water rushing up my eyelids, watching others eyes gloss over too. The flags swaying back and forth, signs written in Spanish that wrote genocide.

In London, there was a protest for bulldogs and pitbulls rights in front of Big Ben, stopping traffic for hours. Pitbulls are currently being killed there for “being too dangerous.” People were yelling. Horns were blown. Police enforcement stood still with resting apathetic faces.

In Scotland, on Remembrance Day, there was a protest for Palestine. Shouts and speeches on microphones overwhelmingly echoed in the air.

All the protests that I encountered opened my eyes to the international issues of our times, how everyone is affected by the current political crisis. There are protests around the world so frequently, and America doesn’t even know about them.

I’ve lived in my parent’s home for 21 years, and this was the first time I fled the coup for multiple months. I went without knowing anyone who lived there and started anew.

I craved independence, which was a large reason I wanted to study abroad in the first place.

I am incredibly grateful for my experience and encourage those with the opportunity to strive to study abroad. As corny as it sounds, I found a new side of myself. If I could, I’d still be there.

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    Marcelle CourtoisFeb 26, 2024 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you for your insightful writing on what it is like to challenge oneself to be better.