Going abroad was always on the top of my college to-do list. I knew it would be an experience like no other but I was not expecting how much confidence and excitement it would instill in me. From the second I walked off of the plane in Berlin, I was swept away with how amazing and huge the world is. Berlin is like no other place I have ever been before and I was surprised at how comfortable and at home I felt there. It really shifted what I thought my priorities were in life and I am dying to see the rest of the world as soon as I possibly can. Berlin was the perfect place for me to go as a graphic design student because the city is so fundamentally based in art and design. Posters plaster every surface, graffiti takes over every wall, and the people just breathe creativity. I was so inspired by the entire city and cannot stop looking back at pictures I took because it was so unbelievable there.
Now that I know I can survive abroad in a place where English is not the first language, I definitely want to either co-op abroad during my time at Northeastern or work abroad right after graduation. There are such distinct styles of design to every city and the opportunity to absorb these different ways of design thinking while I’m just starting my career is just too huge to pass up. I would love to be abroad for much longer than the one month because working and learning while immersed in a different culture would further broaden my skills and experience.
I remember being so nervous in the weeks leading up to the program’s start because I did not know anyone who was going on the trip and I did not know a WORD of german. I was afraid of the stereotypical stern stereotype of germans and the overall feeling of annoyance usually spoken of against americans abroad. But I found the opposite to be true when I ventured out on my own. People laughed with me when I stumbled through trying to order food and they taught me the correct way to say things. Others offered help when I looked lost on the buses, and countless people were happy to chat while we were in line somewhere. The people I met in Germany had a much different way of looking at the world and all that it has to offer. Their focus was not solely based on monetary success but rather success in having a full, happy life which was so incredibly refreshing. Getting caught up in the day to day worries of school, work, and the little things in life so often gets in the way of the simple and enjoyable things in life. I definitely will take a breath and absorb what’s around me much more this semester.
You could say that the best thing about studying abroad was the food. And the people. And the beautiful sights. But the absolute best thing about my time in Berlin is what the city gave to me. Somehow it helped me grow up a little bit more. It gave me this huge sense of self worth and confidence because I survived. I did it! I was plopped in the middle of Europe and learned an insane amount of things from both class and just walking around on my own. It is true that the best way to discover a city is to get lost in it, and I got lost a lot. I got lost way more than I’d like to admit, but I embraced it and found the best things when I stumbled upon them.
So have you ever thought about taking the plunge and going abroad? Do it. Absolutely, positively do it any way that you can make it happen. And when you get there, do not freak out. It is inevitable that you will, but it will get so much better really quickly. There is so much out there to see and there are so many people to meet. And of course, there is so much food out there that you need to try.
The next place on the list to study or work would definitely be Italy. Berlin was amazing because of its funk, grit, and grime, but Italy is amazing because of its beauty. It is a much different lifestyle and culture in Italy that I would love to experience and it would be somewhere still incredibly different from where I have been before. But we will see what is in the cards for me next year.
All the best and more from a broad (formerly) abroad!