This is a subject near and dear to my heart that I’ve known this whole time I should make a blog post about. Now I’m in a very specific situation, I know that, but I want to let any other people who might fall into this situation know that they’re not alone. I’m getting through this, and I want other terriers to know they can get through similar situations too.
Okay, so I never wanted to study abroad. It seemed cool, but I’m an independent college student, I don’t have the money to go abroad and besides, my life is unstable enough moving from house to house every break without adding onto that a new apartment, new language, new everything. Nope, I had my little niche at Wofford and I was happy to stay there. Then the $4,000 tuition increase happened and I realized that as much as I couldn’t afford to go abroad, I couldn’t afford to stay at Wofford my senior year either. Oh yeah, did I mention this is my senior year? That’s important.
That puts me in the situation where I had to get my butt on a plane and fly to Easter Europe just to be able to afford to graduate from the college that I love so much. For whatever reason. This is my last fall semester, I should be back at home running the club I started last year, or participating in Spectrum events. Not here, starting over from square one, awkwardly crafting friendships we all know to be ephemeral, just like freshman year.
As the title and the tone of all that imply, I’ve felt a lot of resentment for having been shipped over here. But I’m writing this post now knowing that I’m over the worst of that. I even threw away the sticky note where I was counting down the days until I go home (it was on 69 last time I checked, lols). I still wish I had more options and that this wasn’t the only way to graduate, but I’ve learned to love the experience here. Those ephemeral friendships, while I know they’ll be short lived, mean a lot to me in the moment. My professors are great, this city is beautiful, losing that resentment has helped me see this experience as the complex, life enriching moment that it actually is.
Now I want to be clear, I say “losing’ as opposed to “letting go of” or “getting rid of” because this was not an active thing. There was no day where I sat down and said “no more grumpy face, I’m hereby cancelling my resentment!” There wasn’t even really one day where I can point to and say “that was it, that was the last time I felt salty about being here.” I just felt it very strongly when I came here, then less, and now none. So it will be a process, coming to terms with your new living situation abroad, but it will happen. It’s okay to feel salty at first, and you will not feel that way forever. I hope everyone going abroad can learn to appreciate their experience as much as I have.
That was a little heavy, so here’s something fun. I saw one of the students who is studying in Prague posted about their fried cheese there. So I decided to recreate the first meal I had when I came to Hungary, which is similar to that fried cheese, but since we care about our health here, Hungarians don’t fry their cheese, they grill it. Now you might be thinking, “but Aidan, we have fried cheese in America, that’s not so different.” There is one major difference, no bread. That’s right, just cheese that has been cooked on a stove (there are no grills here, but many things come grilled, it means cooked in a skillet), and then served with, you guessed it, mayonnaise from a bag. This truly is a rich, fascinating culture. (Also, note, I keep hearing over and over in my culture classes how much the Czechs and the Hungarians hate each other, that’s why the tiny shade at Mae’s post, it’s all in good fun)