My First Trip Abroad in Photos

My project “Austauscherfahrungen” has been active for more than a year now. To celebrate this occasion and reflect on the roots of this blog, I have put together this post—My First Trip Abroad in Photos.

There are two ways to “read” this entry: you can either start from this page and click on the photos that interest you, or you can start by clicking on the first photo and then go from photo story to photo story.

 

The first time I went abroad I was 18 years old. I went abroad the summer after my freshman year of university. It was not an organized trip with my university, nor was it a group trip through an organization offering study abroad opportunities to American students. I signed up for a summer language course with an international language school, Goethe-Institute.

I was from a small (southern) American town and somewhat bad at directions. Naturally, I had some expectations of Europe, but I was open-minded and unafraid to travel to Germany by myself. I wasn’t too nervous before I took off—I only worried about organizational matters. At first, it was a challenge to navigate train stations and flow with the pace of Germany, but I soon met friends at the language school and spent a fantastic summer abroad.

Some quick tips I have are: to enjoy the small things and give yourself time for reflection. Also, you have to be bad at something before you can be good at it, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Ultimately, I gained a strong motivation to study German further and changed my major to German once I returned home. For more on my study abroad in Germany summer 2015, check out this article~Getting Started with Studying Abroad

 

Introduction aside, here is My First Trip Abroad in Photos:

 

 

 

Returning Home After 13 Months Abroad

 

Returning home to Georgia, U.S.A after 13 months abroad was surreal. I spent 7 weeks in Kiev, Ukraine. And before that, I was an exchange student in Erlangen, Germany. During my 11-month stay in Germany, I didn’t visit home a single time.

 

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The Court Square ~ Newnan, Georgia

 

I left behind a different reality in Europe and had a hard time suddenly slamming my brakes to match with the pace of life in a good ol’ suburban town.

 
The population of my hometown (Newnan, GA) is approximately 30,000 people, which is about the same as the number of undergraduates at my alma mater, Georgia State University. Although it has been a humbling experience to revisit my hometown, I do not feel that my roots are here, and it is quite clear that the suburban lifestyle of southern American towns, or at least this one, is too mundane for someone like me.

 
I no longer have the stresses that I had here as a teenager and I feel as if I am on a different level than other long-term residents… as if I am not defined by or confined to the old rumors. I see that my hometown is continually becoming more modern and more culturally diverse. But, I still have sympathy for the kids, who feel stuck here and have not had the chance to travel, or the chance to develop their beliefs at university.

 

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It was hard coming back. Having conversations with family or old friends can be challenging. The best way to describe the scenario is Plato’s Allegory of a Cave. In other words, we limit reality to our perceptions. To become enlightened, it is necessary to see life outside of the cave. The cave represents the states of most human beings. Those who return to the cave and try to recount what they have experienced meet disbelief from those who have not left the cave. We need more than just the naming of things; we also need reflective understanding. Travelling and learning foreign languages allow us to grow past only seeing the shadows in the cave.

 
I am still learning languages and working on a few small projects until my “medium-size” projects take off—I am looking for local internships and work while continuing plans of travel in the States. And my “big project” is getting accepted into grad school.

 

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A few days passed, and I was no longer waking at 4 in the morning. I guess it’s also not so bad being around people who really know you and not just the exchange student version of you… with friends who have not just seen how you’ve bloomed, but friends, who also know the “Georgia Red Clay” that you grew in and how your branches developed.

 

Sincerely,

Stephanie F.

 

 

 

The Graduate? Graduating American University from Abroad

Hello there! Glad to have you on my blog=) If you are here for the first time, I’ll give a short introduction about the blog and myself:

This blog started as a project for my online coursework while I was studying abroad as a German language major in Erlangen, Germany. It has grown into something much bigger. I have articles on German culture, sightseeing in Germany, learning foreign languages, travelling Europe, tips for studying abroad in Germany as well as several articles about self-development and my personal journey.

This post  is based on a journal entry from May this year (2018), which I wrote after I had officially graduated, but was still completing the second-half of my study abroad. It will be more personal than most of my other posts.  At the time that I wrote it and, especially the next month, I experienced a certain life-anxiety.

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The Graduate, 1967

Mr. Braddock: Ben, what are you doing?
Benjamin: Well, I would say that I’m just drifting. Here in the pool.
Mr. Braddock: Why?
Benjamin: Well, it’s very comfortable just to drift here.
Mr. Braddock: Have you thought about graduate school?
Benjamin: No.
Mr. Braddock: Would you mind telling me then what those four years of college were for? What was the point of all that hard work?
Benjamin: You got me.

“Life-anxiety” for me was an ambiguous feeling from not having the structure that university gave me and from being uncertain about the next plans and not knowing the meaning of it all.

I wasn’t feeling negative. I was actually quite positive, but I had so many goals along with the feeling that time is so limited. I am a person who believes “life is too short to not take it serious enough” rather than the relaxed “to take it too serious.” I don’t mean worrying about the little details, but rather having a direction and pursuing your dreams.

On the other hand, I think it’s not necessarily bad to not have it all figured out because we are able to discover new things and can go on a journey to let our intuition guide us to what we really want and need. Thinking about our future is also important because without goals or reasons to do something, we may end up unhappy or just breezing through at a job that we don’t enjoy, that doesn’t challenge us or add meaning to our life.

Graduating from high school is also a big change. By my junior year of high school, I realized that I would soon be free of school obligations and it meant that I was no longer a teenager, but a young adult. Graduating from university is much different than high school. High school was the start to university. (And for some work, love, marriage and kids.) This feeling of freedom after graduating university is well… as Janis Joplin said, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” It’s heavy. It’s great to have accomplished something, but being finished is also bittersweet. University encourages you to contemplate the universe and your purpose on earth and finishing university from abroad was almost as if the world decided to eat me and spit me out again. The weight of the world was on my shoulders.

But don’t let this intro intimidate you, here are the many different thoughts I had about graduating American university from abroad:

Before we get started, I want to say: I am no longer feeling like I did during spring. I have goals but no definite plans, but I am working on different things. As far as what my next official plans will be, well, you’ll just have to stay tuned.

9 Thoughts About Graduating American Uni from Abroad

  1. I am glad that I no longer have to do online classes. While my marks turned out fine, I didn’t get the usual interaction I would have when visiting a normal course at my university. I got a taste of the courses, but not the full thing, so my motivation wasn’t the same.. it just felt like busy work.
  2. I loved my home university. I knew my place there by my third year and spent my fourth year in Germany. So, I am a bit sad to leave it behind. Sad that I couldn’t have done more there as well.
  3. Being abroad makes me feel much different about graduation. After doing an exchange for 8 months abroad, not having cap-and-gown photos made and not going through the whole process with everyone, I’m definitely not experiencing the typical celebrations and worries.
  4. It’s also different because my Russian studies are finally starting off and I’ve started doing new things like French, travelling more, reading more, etc. In other words, I’m busy with new avenues and not just focused on being done with my home university.
  5. I feel proud and excited that I’ve finished university. I have a degree, great grades, honors, and other experience alongside the studies as well.
  6. I’m happier now that I have started working on grad school applications and preparations.
  7. In general, it’s still hard to believe that time went by so fast and many things just fell into place—it wasn’t a plan I had made years before I began uni. My studies found me.
  8. I’m stuck in some weird existential-crisis-zone. There’s capitalism of the 21st century vs. experiencing life vs. my true passion vs. adult life and so on.
  9. I am also looking forward to being “free” from university and paperwork as an (almost) expat in Germany and returning to USA. I’m coming back with many interesting experiences behind me and to friends and family who miss me. When I return, I’ll still be busy with a few things and I’ll definitely still be learning, but I want to use the time for myself and to travel the States. It will be interesting to see whether I will feel as free as I do abroad or if I will just feel out of place.

 

How did you feel after your graduated? Have you experienced a similar feeling?~Stephanie F.

What I’ve Learned Living Abroad on My Own

1. “Adulting” takes a lot of time and energy: Adulting means calling the doctor when something is bothering you. Adulting means getting yourself help when you need it. Adulting means planning meals and going grocery shopping. Adulting means cooking or spending your own money when you eat out. Adulting means deciding between work and play. Adulting means cleaning and doing chores. Adulting means getting yourself the things you need to be successful. Adulting means taking responsibility for your decisions. All of which takes a lot of time and energy. But eventually–or at least I have–you develop a routine. You learn from your mistakes and decide if you want to do it better the next time. Independence can be freeing but it comes with responsibility.

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2. Friendships aren’t easily made: I have heard so many times that it’s hard to make friends in Germany. That’s true–it takes time to “crack their hard shells.” But actually, it’s hard to make friends in Germany and in America. I think making true friends is hard everywhere. Students are so busy and we get comfortable with the friends we already have. Meeting new people and having acquaintances aren’t the same as having close friends. Friends are people who you don’t just have small talk with. They are people who want to spend time with you, who you can be yourself around, who want to see you succeed, and they are people who are there to listen and give support even when times are hard.

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3. Introverts aren’t always happy being alone: I was almost always busy during the semester back home–classes, work, volunteer work, extra classes, studying, hitting the gym, and so on. I still went out and spent time with friends, but I didn’t have as much time to think about actually being alone during most of my free time since I didn’t really have “free time.” When I had a lot of free time on my hands my first semester here, my hobbies alone didn’t keep me happy because I felt stuck in my own world and therefore, lonely. If you’re introverted, push yourself to go to events and talk to new people. You may not feel energized in large crowds but you still need love and support.

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4. When it seems like no one cares what you’re doing with your life, you have to be there for yourself: Not everyone is going to like you, but you have the right to pursue your interests. There is definitely someone in your life who cares so don’t give up–for them and for yourself.

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5. Talking helps: Even when things sting when you first talk about them, I think that we feel less weight in our hearts after we’ve talked about a hard time or bad experience. Communication is also key to all healthy relationships. Try not to criticize the other person, but rather explain how you felt in the situation.

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6. Writing is cathartic and gives you insight into the past: I have been keeping a diary since I started my study abroad here (and on and off since I started university.) For one, it makes me feel better when I turn my emotions and thoughts into concrete words on paper. It is also very interesting to read what I did months and even years ago. Not to mention, our thoughts are consistently changing.. you may be surprised months later by what you were thinking before.

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7. Our emotions dictate our perception and they act as warning lights: Except for practicing mindfulness and seeing the good in ourselves, I think it is quite hard to “control” our emotions. I still haven’t decided whether it’s the thought or the emotion that comes first. Our emotions do make all the difference when it comes down to what we perceive. But, our emotions are like warning lights. So don’t put yourself second to a person who doesn’t connect with you. Our feelings shouldn’t be ignored and, even when it seems hard at first to admit, they can be a hint that something isn’t right. But we also shouldn’t let them stop us from being who we are and doing what we love. In other words, don’t get yourself down and when you feel like someone has brought you down, there is most likely something there that needs to be addressed.

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8. Perspective is key: When things get hard or you are feeling down, it’s helpful to remind yourself that there is more good than bad. We can’t just eliminate all bad and every negative experience. But we can remind ourselves that a positive perspective allows us to use the now and what we currently have to its fullest and try to make a better tomorrow. A positive perspective is a strong fighter against negativity and irrational thoughts.

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9. Being happy and successful for me means to never stop planning the big things but having enough time and spirit to enjoy the little things: Being content and leading a fulfilling life does not come from only working on the big, future plans. Goal after goal after goal. The things around you become more special when you take the time to acknowledge them and appreciate them. Sometimes a break is all you need. Then you can start again later in full-force.

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10. It usually isn’t as bad as you think: Everyone else doesn’t care as much about the mistake you made as you think. It will be forgotten soon. We’re all human after all. Also, we have the tendency to have black and white thinking when our feelings are involved. Just because we are feeling bad, it doesn’t necessarily mean somebody did something wrong and it also doesn’t mean they intended to hurt you.

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My Goals for a Year-long Exchange in Germany (A Bilingual Text )

Mein Name ist Stephanie Ford und ich studiere Deutsch an der Georgia State Universität in Atlanta. Seit Januar 2015 bin ich eine sehr engagierte und motivierte Deutschstudentin. Außer meiner Studiumarbeit sehe ich täglich YouTube-Videos an, lese die Nachrichten auf meinem Handy, höre Musik, spreche mit mir selber, oder mit jemandem, der bereit ist, mein Deutsch zu hören. Wenn ich genug Zeit habe, lese ich auch Romane, schaue mir Filme an, lerne Grammatik und neulich viel Wortschatz. Weil ich schon ein fortgeschrittenes Niveau erreicht habe, ist ein Jahr langer Aufenthalt in Deutschland einer der besten Wege, um meine Deutschkenntnisse noch zu verbessern. Auf Deutsch könnte ich denken und sogar träumen. Ich möchte C2 erreichen, und die deutsche Kultur tiefer kennenlernen. Wenn ich an der Friedrich-Alexander Universität studieren würde, hätte ich nicht nur die Chance meine Deutschkenntnisse zu erweitern, sondern auch die Chance in und um Bayern zu reisen. Und ich könnte mich wirklich entscheiden, ob ich in Deutschland arbeiten möchte.

(My name is Stephanie Ford and I study German at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Since January 2015, I have been a very engaged and motivated student of German language. Apart from my university studies, I watch videos daily, read the news on my phone, listen to music, speak with myself, or with someone who is willing to listen to my German. When I have enough time, I also read novels, watch movies, learn grammar and, recently, a lot of vocabulary. Because I have already reached an advanced level, a year-long stay in Germany is one of the best ways to improve my German skills even more. I could even think and dream in German. I want to achieve C2 and get to know the German culture deeper. If I had the chance to study at FAU, I would not only have the chance to expand my German skills but also the chance to travel in and around Bavaria. And I could really decide whether I want to work in Germany or not.)

Sehr intenstiv möchte ich mein Deutsch üben. Ich würde auf jeden Fall die Möglichkeit benutzen, Radio auf Deutsch zu hören, deutsches Fernsehen zu gucken, sowie den Zugang zu deutschen Bibliotheken, Buchhandlungen und natürlich der deutschen Universität zu verwenden. Ich würde gerne Germanistik, andere Fremdsprachen, und verschiedene Kurse in Verbindung mit Linguistik, Kultur und Geschichte nehmen. Vor allem könnte ich mich mit Deutschmuttersprachlern unterhalten. Bayern ist eines der schönsten Bundesländer. Ich möchte viele Städte und Ländern in der Nahe von Erlangen besichtigen. Ich habe es vor, Englisch in Deutschland zu unterrichten, und diese Erfahrung wäre sehr praktisch, weil ich mich für ein Studentenvisum bewerben und mich auf die deutsche Kultur einstellen muss. Ich möchte meinen Sprachtraum erfüllen, viel reisen, und sehen, was ich in der Zukunft machen möchte.

(I want to practice my German intensively. I would definitely use the opportunity to listen to German radio, watch German television and utilize the access to German libraries, book stores and of course the German university. I would like to take Germanistik, other foreign languages, and other courses in connection with linguistics, culture and history. Above all, I could converse with native speakers. Bavaria is one of the most beautiful German states. I could visit many cities and countries close to the city of Erlangen. I have the intention of teaching English in Germany and this experience would be very practical because I have to apply for a student visa and I have to adjust to the German culture. I want to fulfill my language-dream, travel a lot, and see what I would like to do in the future.)

The Unforgettable Capital Cities of Slovenia and Lithuania (Part 1)

Dear readers,

It’s time now on my flight leaving Greece to reflect on my trips in Europe and put my adventures into words. I’ve been on three trips (or maybe 2 1/2 is a better description) since the last time I wrote about my travels. A bus ride and morning stop in Liechtenstein with half-a-day spent in Innsbruck, Austria. Two days in Vilnius, Lithuania. And three days in Greece (Epanomi and Thessaloniki). In this post, I will cover a trip I made back in September then begin with my trip to Lithuania. In the following post, I will discuss my bus ride to the German-speaking countries of Liechtenstein and Austria and finish with my time in Greece.

The semester has started again in Germany. Three weeks of classes are already behind me. I still have German language classes; I finally got to have Russian again and I’ve even started a beginners French class. In just a few weeks now, I will be a college graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in German Language & Literature. I have about 3 1/2 more months in Germany before I return to Georgia, USA. As far as my next plans.. well, I’m planning to apply to a couple honors graduate programs both in the USA and in England. I’d like to study journalism, history and maybe even something connected to art or politics. When I return to USA, I want to travel—slowly see all 50 States. And before I make it back to the States, I want to study Russian language in Ukraine for at least four weeks. Not to mention, I would also like to work as an English teacher in Asia within the next few years. Another travel goal, is to visit all former countries of the Soviet Union.

You may ask if my trip to Slovenia was in September why am I writing about it now? But, it’s all connected and my trip there was amazing so I think it’s worth sharing. It’s a trip that I definitely recommend! Two weeks into my study abroad program here, my intensive German language course started. It was Monday-Friday. (Fridays ended a bit earlier.) The class lasted at least 3 hours each day. That means that with a relatively small group (about 15 students), we got to know each other during the 2 1/2 weeks pretty well. It was also still vacation time so most students weren’t too worried about their studies yet. We talked a lot and had a nice time together. One of the other female students mentioned a travel group called Euro Trip Adventures, that was going to Slovenia over the weekend. I hadn’t heard much about Slovenia, but the suggestion intrigued me and I bought myself a ticket. Unfortunately, the tickets were sold out before my friend could get hers so I ended up going alone. As I mentioned in the post about Switzerland, Euro Trip Adventures can be an easy way to get know new people while traveling. So it turned out just fine going alone!

~night time in Ljubljana, Slovenia~

Overnight bus rides are quite exhausting–as was my bus ride to Slovenia and back again the next day to Germany. Space is limited and you have to be able to kill time during the journey. I recommend bringing water, healthy snacks, a pillow, your phone charger, cash, a book or games and toiletries for freshening up. My stop (in Erlangen, Germany) was first so I had gotten comfortable and was able to fall asleep by the time the last group got on the bus. Euro Trip Adventures usually stops in at least 4 cities in Germany to pick up all the travelers. It was a actually pretty funny because I laughed out loud in my sleep–no idea what I was dreaming about–and quite a few people heard me and I ended up waking myself up, but not really caring that I had laughed, and falling back asleep. I ended up making friends with the guy who sat next to me. So I hadn’t scared him too bad by laughing in my sleep 😀

In the morning, we stopped at a truck stop so that we could freshen up, use the bathroom and have breakfast. It was still another hour or two before we reached Lake Bled in Slovenia. By the way, most buses offer snacks and drinks so cash always comes in handy! The tour guide collected the money from everyone who wanted to do a tour of Ljubljana. That’s the capital of Slovenia and quite a lovely city (more about it soon.) The tour either cost 10 or 15 Euros.

Lake Bled itself was such a stunning and serene site. We had about 3.5 hours there, which was plenty! The lake was an amazing color and so clear. We had enough time to climb the steep hill and enjoy the view from the castle. The view was incredible! Being at the castle and looking down on the water was magnificent and fairy-tale-like. My eyes  devoured the scenery. We also had time to have cake at the castle-café (the view was also quite nice from the other side of the castle at the café) and more time to explore down below and walk around the area near the lake. There was an entry fee to the castle–about 10 Euros. Slovenia is part of the European Union and uses the Euro so we didn’t have to worry about exchanging currency.

The bus ride from Lake Bled to Ljubljana lasted–if I’m not mistaken–about 90 minutes. At Ljubljana we had about 8 hours to explore the city. The tour leader took us from the bus stop into the city center and told us where we would meet for the tour with a local guide. Before the tour, we had time to explore some of the city. I had lunch and got to check out many different parts of the city like the center, some side streets and the market area as well as the many bridges. I hadn’t done too much research about tips, sightseeing or the history of Ljubljana before the excursion, but I learned quite a bit on the tour! The tour guide was awesome. He was a history teacher and seemed passionate about the city and his country. The city was charming. The history quite interesting. And overall, we got to see a lot during the tour. What I got from the tour was that Slovenia is an interesting mix of Slavic, Roman and Germanic/Austrian heritage. You can see multiple influences in the architecture. There are, of course, authors, poets and thinkers that are Slovenian–part of their own story and heritage. Quite a lot of history is represented in artwork and sculptures in Ljubljana. I was engaged and impressed by the beauty of the city and its history. The tour even included a trip up to the castle in Ljubljana. After the tour, we had more time to explore the city. I got to try local beer and wine, see more areas of the city and experience the beautiful night-time atmosphere of the lights and bridges.

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To conclude, I thought Ljubljana was clean, charming, cute, inviting and somewhat romantic. It felt like the city greeted me with a nice, warm hug. And I learned more about history. There’s never just one story and our world is so rich with different cultures that aren’t mainstream but still very special. Stay tuned for Part 2 which will be about my trip to Lithuania and an update about my studies here and back home!

Sincerely,

Stephanie F.

A mini “interview” written Spring 2017

Stephanie Ford

German Literature Major, Junior

This was required by university housing as a way for the RA (resident adviser) to check-in with the students. It was also meant to be beneficial for Freshman students to reflect on how university has impacted their lives. Yes, I wrote this as a Junior. If you keep reading, you will discover why I was living in Freshman housing.

What were some of the highlights of this year? Why?
I had an article published on an online magazine
I worked in Little Five for seven months at Rag-O-Rama
I applied for an internship and scholarship that both required recommendation letters, essays and a lot of work (didn’t get internship; still waiting on scholarship)
I got to explore different types of German classes (found out I didn’t like translating but I like German poetry)
I’ve maintained regular lessons at Goethe-Zentrum and practiced my German consistently
I took a course “Women Lead in Business” and gained a lot of practical knowledge
I teach English weekly to non-native adults and truly enjoy teaching
I led a Book Drive for Golden Key Honor Society and gave a speech during the New Member Recognition Ceremony (in front of President Becker)
I’ve read 15 books since the fall semester began (not to mention all the articles and excerpts I read for my classes; and more than half of the books were in German)

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What were some of your personal successes? Why?
One of my personal successes was that I got a little tougher this year. Before I wanted to maintain friendships and relationships with people who brought me down. But this year, I have protected myself and have decided not to let people play with my emotions.
Another personal success is that I’ve managed my negative emotions well. I have used music or writing to express what was making me feel bad. I didn’t go to some of the negative coping options I used before.

What were some of your struggles this year? why?
Time management has not been a problem for me. It has been not having enough time to do everything (work, school, sleep, work out, shop, hang with friends, etc., etc.) Many college students do have to work, or have other responsibilities. This year has been the busiest for me. I have been exhausted so many times, and relied on coffee to keep me going. I have had to lack in certain areas like giving myself free time to go out, or hitting the gym. Although being busy is good for me. It keeps me in line and feeling good, I have been pushing myself and have neglected (although not to a ridiculous degree) my body and well-being.
The other major struggle I had this year was with my roommate before I changed dorms. We had to share a bedroom (and of course a bathroom). It did not matter how many compromises or roommate agreements we made, she always did what she wanted to do (including keeping me awake many nights and talking to me like she’s my overcorrecting aunt.) I tried to live in peace and keep to myself, but she truly began harassing me and I felt like I could not even breathe in my own room. So, my other main struggle was being practically tortured by a person who didn’t want to make things easy for anyone. On top of that, getting in touch with the right people at Georgia State, and them actually doing what they are supposed to do to change things for me has been a major struggle out of my control.

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What are things you can do in the future or things you’ve already started doing to help in the areas you struggle?
When I finally got to a point that I was so used to being busy all the time, but losing my drive a bit and relying too much on coffee and energy drinks, I decided to put in my two weeks at work. Now that I’ve stopped working, I am feeling much better and I am putting time into the things I neglected before.

Do you think anything has changed about you since coming to college?
Sure, a lot has changed about me since coming to college. My fashion sense has developed into a new direction. I am pickier about my friends. I have been to a few different foreign countries and have experienced different cultures. I also speak another language and am learning my third. In high school, I was more of an outcast and rebel. Although, I am not trying to please everyone now, I put a lot of consideration into my actions as I want to help others and make an impact on my community. I am still shy, caring, and a little nerdy, but I have challenged myself in many ways and done things that I would not have done in high school. I have matured in many aspects and have really learned a lot. I am more focused and have passions and interests that I didn’t have before.

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How have your relationships at home changed since you’ve come to GSU?
My parents see me as a young adult and have a lot to be proud of and share with their friends. Having more distance with my parents has also allowed us to understand each other better. My family is still important to me and I will never forget that my parents worked hard to provide for me and gave me a lot of support, but now I have become more independent and cannot rely on my parents to fix everything when something goes wrong. I think my parents have learned from me and hearing about my experiences; I can also appreciate hearing some of their old stories and points of advice.

What was it like at home over break?
Normal, boring, relaxing… Things do not change that often back home. Of course it is weird at first but I have adjusted to it and see that as where I’m from and where my family is. Everything was fine with my family and I kept myself busy, but didn’t overdo it and gave myself time to rest. I was still working in Atlanta during break.

How have your views on social or cultural issues changed since coming to GSU? Have they changed at all?
Apart from travelling abroad, I will say that Georgia State has exposed me to many different types of people. Because of that, I am used to working with people who are different than me. I do not let stereotypes or outside appearances guide my decisions.  However, I have also seen that people are very divided and are quick to blame others. I think that there is potential for all people to be treated equally, but there is a lot of pain and hate that hold people back. In a way, I have been inspired because being with all kinds of people is the norm for me, but, on the other hand, I have been discouraged because although Georgia State and Atlanta may be diverse, people are not so open-minded and misjudge others when they are different.

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Is there anything you’d like to challenge yourself or other students about regarding perceptions of other cultures or your own culture?
I think that everyone should either travel abroad or study a foreign language. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone allows us to see our flaws and our strengths. It also helps us realize that no one is always the insider and no one is always the outsider. There will always be similarities and differences between people. Exposure to new things and opening yourself up to different people is a great way to challenge one’s perception of their culture and other cultures.

different-ideas

Have there been any programs or events on campus that have exposed you to different ideas about culture and society? What were they?
I went to a World Youth Alliance meeting and discussed stereotypes about homeless. I heard a lot of interesting stories from volunteers with experience around working with homeless people. I also learned some surprising statistics about how extreme poverty and homelessness are in Atlanta and the state of Georgia.

I enjoyed putting this post together. I did not make any changes to what was originally written in Spring of 2017. Now you know a little bit more about me.

All the best,

Stephanie