A reflection on my time abroad

Going on exchange is something I have dreamed about for years. I already knew way before university that I wanted to go, and I knew I wanted to experience the college culture in the U.S. Originally, I was supposed to go in the fall of 2020, but then covid-19 happen and that obviously spoiled my plans. I tried to postpone it to the following spring, but that didn’t work out either.

That’s why, when I finally got to go, it was a long-awaited dream coming true. Yet somehow, before leaving home, I was more nervous than excited. It almost seemed unreal, since I had been so close to going so many times, so I think in my head, it was hard to believe it was actually happening.

Coming to Drexel, I had a lot of expectations. I think from watching all those movies where college and college students were involved, I pictured it all to be a certain way. I think I was most surprised by the dorm. It was not at all as I expected. I imagined people running in the hallways, going from door to door to hang out, and having one roommate to share your room with, which would be directly connected to the hallway. For the lectures, I pictured huge classrooms with numerous seats, but the ones where I had my classes were actually rather small – not that that’s a bad thing.

During my time abroad, I have had many different feelings: homesickness, loneliness, happiness, frustration, and excitement. Some things have been out-of-body experiences and when I look back at them, it’s still sometimes hard to believe that it all really happened. I would say the most important part of my time as an exchange student is the fact that I have been pulled out of my comfort zone, which is a big deal to me as mentioned in one of my previous blog posts. It’s definitely not easy coming to a new place and having to reorganize your life, which at least in my case, I had very much settled into.

As I’m a person who likes to put things into a system or a structure, the frustrating parts have been trying to do exactly that since I arrived. I struggled a lot just trying to figure out how to manage my time schedule in regard to schoolwork and as I told my boyfriend in week 9, I felt like I was finally catching up. Oh well… better late than never, right? The homework load has for sure been very different from back home and it took a long time for me to get used to, and now that I have, I think I have learned some valuable lessons from it. Being a perfectionist, it was a struggle for me to hand in a lot of homework in such little time as I’m used to having more time for larger assignments, where I could make fine adjustments. It stressed me out a lot, so my mom told me that sometimes it’s not about getting it perfect, but just about getting it done, and I think that has been a valuable lesson for me. Drexel has helped me loosen my grip a little – both from assignments and this blog posts – and I mean that in the best way possible. Being a perfectionist is not fun in the long run.

But now, it’s time to say goodbye and my stay at Drexel is soon to be a memory. I know that this term has changed me, though I have yet to find out how and when I do, I hope it’s for the better.

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