People: The Most Important Part of Exchange
Ljubljana is a beautiful place. A place hidden with adventures, with strange venues, with great food and even better friends. It’s hard to talk about my 5 months abroad simply because there is so much I want to talk about! This post serves not to talk about how amazing Ljubljana is but why my exchange abroad was a life changing experience!
I honestly can say my academic exchange was nothing short of amazing. There were many tears and even the guards at the Italian passport control assessing my state of mind when returning home. Why? Well sometimes you travel to places and fall in love with the place; but sometimes you travel to places and fall in love with people as well. The combination of the two is a deadly experience. I’m not talking about falling in love with some European man that whisked me off of my feet…I’m talking about meeting people who want to share the same experiences as you and want to share these experiences with you. There’s something so bonding about living in a small, mouldy, overly loud and non-private dorm. Something that makes you never want to leave that place and those people.
Originally I wanted to travel to Ljubljana with a friend. Thankfully plans didn’t go as followed. I was completely alone and it turned out to be the absolute best thing. Why? When you’re alone you’re forced out of your comfort zone and you have no option but to get out and meet people. You don’t have your travel buddies to rely on. If I travelled with a friend I knew I would mainly stick with them. I ended up meeting some of the best friends I could have and shared experiences with them that I’ll always remember!
These people became my support system for 5 months. Better yet, they accepted me for all my craziness and even embraced it. If you know me, I can be a lot to handle at times! They essentially become your family and partners in crime for your duration abroad. You’ll eat together, travel together, drink and take care of each other, and you’ll teach each other valuable lessons and perspectives on life. Meeting people from all over Europe really broadened my views on cultures. I was able to learn about different cultures not by travelling to them but by learning different culture tendencies, norms, behaviours and of course by trying different foods!
Remember, a place is just a place, but a place with good people can make your experience go from mediocre to life changing. That’s why I urge people to be as outgoing as possible when travelling. You never know who you’ll meet and what best friend you’ll make along the way!