Viewpoint: Europe teaches you things that Texas cannot

By Claire Cameron

I have been to the Louvre and I have seen the Mona Lisa. I have taken my picture in front of Big Ben, and I have watched the time change on the world’s oldest astronomical clock. I have seen the world outside of Texas.

Before going on Baylor’s study abroad, I had never even been outside the country. Now months after my study abroad, I have been to 14 countries across Europe and have even taken a short trip to Asia.

Never has the world seemed so big and so small all at the same time.

I have walked through the Coliseum in Rome, I have looked at the statue of David and I have drooled over the crown jewels.
Coming abroad was a daunting decision at first. I thought to myself, “What am I doing?” I knew no one and I had never even been further away from home than New York, let alone gone across the Atlantic Ocean. Waving goodbye to my dad as he watched me walk through security, I almost felt sick with nervousness and excitement. That seems like a lifetime ago.
I have climbed to the top of the Eiffel tower, I have stood before Check Point Charlie and I climbed down a snowy mountainside in Prague.

Landing in Istanbul, Turkey, last January feels like it was years ago.

I have done so many new things and experienced a whole new world since then.

I have played in the waves on the coast in southern France. I tanned on the sand on a beach in Barcelona, and I have swum in the Mediterranean Sea.

Making friends was easier than I thought. My roommate and I got along very well, and we found a nice group to laugh and joke with. We grew up on this trip. I can no longer look at the world with the same eyes.

My experiences abroad are hard to put into words because I can’t find the right way to explain them to someone on the outside. There’s no way to describe study abroad to someone who has not experienced it.

I have touched a cloud in Switzerland. I have never been so cold in my life. I have sprinted through too many train stations to count ,and I have eaten more Italian Gelato then I care to share.

It’s an out-of-body experience looking back at my time studying abroad. What can I say that will really capture the true essence of what happened to me overseas?
To say I have a good time would be a lie. There was a few times during my time abroad that I was miserable, but in contrast I had never been so amazed and had never had so much fun in my short 22 years of life.

I have walked through the streets of Portugal, I have seen the graves of the brave men who gave their life in World War II in Normandy, and I have seen pure art made out of tulips in Amsterdam. And most importantly, I got to study abroad and become a new person through that experience.

I can say I have traveled across Europe. More important than my travels is how I grew up. I learned how to be more independent; I learned how to mange my time better.

I learned not to be shy and less apprehensive of strangers. I learned who is safe and not safe to speak to, and I learned that I am one in 7 billion people.

Being in so many places where I didn’t speak the language, and had no idea where I was, was a humbling experience. Everything was new and everything seemed so big.

Three months is a long time to be gone, but that shouldn’t stop anyone.

I learned what it means to be a foreigner in a strange country and I learned to appreciate how hard it is to try and communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. I learned so many things I could fill a book with them.

One big thing I learned is how to see the world. No longer is it a place I look at through a veil. I have seen with crystal clear vision the beauty of God’s creation all around me: the mountains and sparkling blue water, the flowers and the architecture of past generations. I feel like I truly started living after going abroad.

I have gotten a taste of the world outside Texas and I can’t wait to have more of it.

I think there is no better experience than studying abroad and I think everyone should do it if they have the opportunity.

I can’t imagine what the rest of my life would look life if I hadn’t studied abroad.

It is a wild experience and no amount of money is worth the experiences I had.

Study abroad changed me for the better and I think everyone, if they can, should take the opportunity to go see world and study abroad.

Claire Cameron is a senior journalism major from Katy. She is a reporter for The Lariat.