At my school, Furman University, it is not out of the ordinary to study abroad. To me, after my sister went to Edinburgh, I knew that I was going to follow in her footsteps, and I did exactly just that. After having been here for just over a month, Edinburgh has quickly become home to me.
I love passing coworkers on the street, seeing fellow students in coffee shops, and getting to know the local store owners.
As much as Edinburgh has become home, I still find something new to explore each and every day. That is my favorite part of studying abroad. I have the comforts of home in a nice flat with friendly flatmates, and the adventure of being on vacation with new experiences at literally every turn.
EPA offers a unique experience to those going abroad which adds to the homey feel. This unique experience is an internship. I have had the opportunity of working in parliament under a Member of Scottish Parliament. I have gained a sort of “work family” with my coworkers introducing me to at least one new person each day at work. Because my work environment is so great, I enjoy going to work and hearing what new exciting legislation we are working on each week.
A great work environment, a nice flat, incredible coworkers, and endless adventure…what could go wrong?? What people often do not tell you is that being abroad is still real life (even if it does feel like a dream at times). I am a realist though, so I will let you in on a little secret – abroad life can be hard! I know this sounds ridiculous and exaggerated – afterall you are in London one weekend, and the French Alps the next, followed by Dublin and the Scottish highlands. However, with real life comes its struggles.
Whether it is figuring out what to eat for dinner, who will do the dishes, getting lost on the bus, losing your wallet, having public transportation literally shut down for hours, or just having a day that you are sad, everything is not always sunny and 75 (especially in the Edinburgh winters… it is never sunny, or 75). Or maybe you could be homesick, get sick, have a hard day at work, be confused as to how to balance school and work, or just struggle to adjust quickly to an entirely new culture without your regular support system. Whatever it is, life can get you down at times, even while you are abroad.
However, that is what makes being abroad so special. You learn to cope with the good and the bad on your own in a new culture. You grow up. You gain perspective. You learn to care for yourself and others better. You experience a new world.
Being in Edinburgh has truly felt like a new home away from home. And yes, this new home has its difficulties as well. But with the difficulties comes opportunities for new lessons to be grateful and appreciate the little things. Go abroad and you’ll learn more about yourself and the world around you. Go abroad and find a new home away from home.
Rob Cain, Furman University Class of 2019 (Edinburgh, spring 2018)