I have been terrible with the blog the last month. There were 3 final blogs I wanted to write before I closed this, but I’m only on # 2 and it has been 5 weeks since my return!
This is the final prompt for the WSU blog squad:
8 Preparing for Re-Entry: Reflecting on How You’ve Changed
Many people describe studying abroad as a life-changing event. As your
study program abroad winds down, pick one example of how study abroad has
changed you and explain to us not just how you have changed, but why this
change came about. Consider this your “capstone blog” – something that you
can point to with pride and use to articulate to your friends and family,
even future employers, why your education abroad experience was more than
This one is my favorite of the prompts. People constantly ask me, “How was France?” or “How was Europe?”. I never know what to say, where do I even begin? Surely my travels merit the typical responses of “awesome” or “amazing,” but if I give that reply am I really answering the question? And honestly, there were many extraordinarily unawesome parts to the trip. Lots of good times were had, as well as days of homesickness, awe-inspiring sights, horrible travelling experiences and interesting (for better or worse) people to meet.
I think travelling tends to strengthen one’s love for humanity or diminish it. I definitely like people less after going abroad. It kind of opened my eyes to how unintelligent the human race is and I’m a little less trustful of authoratative figures after being screwed on my travel plans so often. I also can’t think of a stereotype I had before leaving that was broken, but I could give you a long list of ones which were validated.To fully explain I would have to recount the numerous idiots I met (unfortuantely the vast majority were fellow americans), as well as the people who treated me differently because I was a tourist, people who treated me like an idiot for not knowing Italian or Spanish and the people who were just disrespectful to society as a whole.
I think the most pivotal moment in my new disdain for humanity occured when I visited the catacombs of Paris. When you enter there is a sign that says, “Please Respect The Dead. Do Not Take Flash Photos”.
In the very first hallway I hear this american accent and turn to see three tourists laughing loudly and goofing off. One says to another, “It says not to take pictures, but it doesn’t say don’t touch,” as he reaches out and pokes a skull. I hold my tongue and just walk away hoping a guard would find them. A little later on I see another guy flashing tons of pictures. I usually have no problem with illegal pictures, but seriously? In the catacombs?
A guard tells him “No Pictures” and he apologizes, but takes them again once he is a safe distance away. I then run into more and more loud and obnoxious giggling Australians and Americans. I had expected to come into a tomb of silence where people stared in awe and was met with people treating it as a haunted house. I see one guy pick up a skull to show to his girlfriend who screams at him and then bursts into laughter. I also run into the same Americans I met at the entrance who pick up a bone to examine it and toss it back on the pile. I wanted to say something, came so close to saying something, but held my tongue. I don’t know why I did, I shouldn’t have. I left the tombs livid with anger at how disrespectul people can be. The catacombs aren’t some dumb tourist trap, there are a part of history we are priviledged enough to access. Do people not realize the bones are real?
I expected studying abroad to make me more open-minded and gain a new respect for other cultures. Instead I came back a bit more racist and nationalistic. It sounds horrible to say, but if I’m really honest with myself that is the bitter truth. Studying abroad was an irreplacable and unforgettable semester. I refuse to ever sum it up as simply awesome though, it was an experience and if you want me to tell you more about Europe, I’d love to talk about it- just drill me with specific questions, because I can’t describe it as a whole any more than I can briefly tell you how my life has been.
*Also, this is not my final blog. I will be writing one blog about my final trip to Paris -a great end to my stay in France!