Some of my goals for this semester were to make lifetime friends in another area of the United States, learn more about the cultural differences between Kansas and Arizona, experience learning in a larger classroom setting, and to just have fun. I definitely accomplished all of these goals. I will admit that it did take me a while to step out of my shell and interact with more than just one or two people. After I put in the effort to make the most out of my time here, it was amazing. I started going to various events in Tucson, museums, school events, etc. My only regret with this is that I wished I would have jumped in sooner. I definitely feel like I missed out on some of the exciting stuff at the beginning of the year. But, I still have next semester! I am more than ready to dive back in and immerse myself into everything. My main goal for next semester is to just do more with sightseeing and be more involved on campus. I want to go visit other parts of Arizona and find other cultures and landmarks. I want to join all of the little clubs that are advertised at the club fair. I want to do more.
Overall, there really weren’t any cultural gaps that I had to try and close. Staying in the United States eliminated the issue of a language barrier or major cultural barriers. Instead, I had to focus on quickly adjusting to a completely different lifestyle. It was a change moving from a town with 25,000 people to a city with over 500,000 people and an even bigger change going to a school with over 40,000 people. My smallest class this semester had 95 people in it, which is bigger than any class I ever took at Emporia. I was even in a class with 580 people in it, which put me at the challenge of finding a decent seat in a large lecture hall. This was only one of my minor challenges.
I really didn’t think that living in a different part of the U.S would change any of my opinions and attitudes that much, but it definitely has. I used to have the constant urge to move as far away from home as possible. Now, I understand more of what that is like. I didn’t think I would miss home that much, but I do. I love being in Tucson, but it definitely made me realize how much I loved having my family just a few hours away. One of my other thoughts that changed is that people who live in bigger cities aren’t always nice. The people here are not as friendly as Kansans, but I have met some of the sweetest people at random restaurants and stores. It mostly just helped me remember that people are people, no matter where you are.
Before studying abroad, I think every college student should know before studying abroad is that your time will only be as good as you make it. I remember being told this at the study abroad meeting in Emporia, but I kind of just brushed it off. Like I said before, when I started going to all of the events and sights my experience got so much better. So, instead of taking a nap or just hanging out in your room when you have a chance, get out there and do everything. If you don’t, you will regret it.
My study abroad experience will help me in my future career because I now have the experience of moving somewhere completely different and starting over in a sense. I moved to a school that is 18 hours from home. I had no friends. I knew none of my classmates or professors, and didn’t really know what is was going to be like learning in such a big environment. So, I can now apply this toward my future career because I proved to myself that new and different can be a good thing. Honestly, it can be one of the best experiences you’ll ever have.
How has my study abroad experience changed me?
Studying abroad made me realize that I want to travel and experience more in this world!