I’ve always been a big believer in change. I think that no matter what culture a person is raised in, it is human nature to be constantly pushing towards something. Some sort of goal that is driving each individual to act the way they do. I think that goal setting nature is a big indicator of the ability that we as human beings have to change, and that change can happen quickly or slowly in ways that we wouldn’t expect.
Two and a half months ago I arrived in Slovenia. At that point I felt pretty confident in myself. I had set a goal to study abroad, and getting to Slovenia meant I had achieved my goal! What I didn’t know is how immensely these last two months would affect me. The changes that I have seen in myself in these last two months are far more than just academic growth. It has been personal growth. The kind that hurts at times, that is scary to face, that makes you smile and laugh uncontrollably, the kind of growth that is so far outside of your comfort zone that it seems comfort is no where in sight.
The kind of growth that is life altering.
Being in Slovenia has taught me that it is perfectly okay to try new things. Academically, when I came to Slovenia I was really confident in my abilities. I knew how to achieve good grades, work hard, and produce work that was above average. I thought that I knew the intense design process, and the best way to accomplish a good design. In Ljubljana the design process is a bit different. Each project is to be started in a place that I wasn’t used to. I was being asked to try new methods and push my understanding of what design is. I’m happy that I have learned this new way of design. It is difficult and far from comfortable, but I don’t think I could have learned it anywhere else.
As far as personal growth goes, it seems impossible to put into words what being here has done for me. I have learned the importance of being true to yourself, and holding onto what you believe. On the contrary however, I have learned that its okay to put my walls down sometimes. To let myself form lasting relationships here that will affect me for the rest of my life. I have learned how to be a solo traveler and to enjoy being alone sometimes. I’ve learned that I am capable of far more than I thought I was.
I have been able to travel to a lot of countries that I never thought possible. I have seen the effects of the recent war in what used to be Yugoslavia, and how people are still responding to and in some cases holding grudges about what has happened. I’ve seen first hand the bomb shelters and destruction. I have always been interested in history, but learning about the history of this place that I have grown to call home will stick with me forever.
[picture of me in Belgrade, Serbia]
[picture of me in Celje, Slovenia]
[the famous Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary]
[Castle of Postojna, Slovenia]
[the epitome of my joy to be in Italy eating real Italian food]
I will never regret my decision to study abroad. It has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I think that everyone who is even mildly interested in trying it should do it! Traveling abroad and living abroad is probably the fastest way to discover yourself. It is hard, and you’ll be forced into a lot of difficult situations. You won’t know where to go or even how to ask for help. You’ll try new foods, some that are so good and others that really aren’t. You will grow. I know that I have, and I hope to keep growing in my last month here.