Why Study Abroad?

Our biggest changes may arrive when we are looking the other way. Perhaps a stork , a blood red cardinal, or the wind delivers them at our door. At 20, I hoped to travel the world with my partner in the future, but I didn’t feel comfortable going on my own. During my first two years of college, study abroad was too scary and expensive an adventure to consider. Then came the watershed; a long distance call to Germany where we discussed how and when to see each other next.

I followed the advice offered through the phone line and found a program in Spain with a late spring deadline. I asked for my parents’ help. I worked a summer job to earn spending money and my parents generously paid room, board and tuition for the program in Toledo, Spain. Step by step, despite my fears, the journey overseas became a reality. The prospect of living 2000 miles closer to my love interest was the inspiration that set me on that road. Thank goodness for that impetus that changed my life and fate.

Soon, I was flying across the pond alone. I was friendless, except for my seven suitcases. Would they be my armor or albatross? The day before I left my father had threatened to have me roll them around the block to give me minimalist resolve, but he allowed me my mistake instead. So I learned and learned again across Europe the value of planning so that I could manage my own bags. A luggage dolly made them light, but no less awkward on stairs. My suitcases and I arrived intact in Frankfurt. After a long wait in customs and in immigration, I was in my beloved’s arms.

My sweetheart and I spent a romantic week crossing Europe, then I took the train south from Germany to Spain. By the time I reached Toledo three days later, after stopping in Munich and Barcelona, a transformation was underway. Already less nervous as a solo traveler, I was more confident and less afraid of making travel arrangements. Each successful plan, each kilometer transversed that autumn, put a larger more impermeable smile on my face. I would go places. I would take myself there. The road was mine to choose. In the difficulties I have faced since then, the belief that I can find my own answers has allowed me the freedom to say yes or say no according to the dictates of my heart. I have survived adversity and will survive any present or future crisis too. This is the essence of my Fake Flamenco. Olé!

When have you surprised yourself with what you can do?

Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco. Olé! –Rebecca

Alhambra Palace   Photo Credit: Rebecca Cuningham
Rebecca Cuningham

7 thoughts on “Why Study Abroad?

  1. There is a ton to be said about total immersion in a different culture, and that goes beyond meeting your sweetheart on a distant shore 😉 My niece is currently studying in China for a semester.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 7 suitcases!!! Your father was a wise man but I’m sure you learned a valuable lesson–the difference between what you thought you might need and what you actually did need. In my rambling abroad, I’ve lost suitcases in the past as they tumbled down escalators in front of me 🙂

    What a wonderful experience living abroad must have been at that age and a what great introduction to a new and different culture!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment, Henry. Yes, Dad let me learn the hard way, but now I know for sure to pack less, far less. Living abroad that semester was an experience that prepared me to be an adult and transformed me into one. : ) Rebecca

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s