Why to Study Abroad
November 5, 2014
Blogger: Teresa Langan
Hello world, or rather internet.
My name is Tess and I am a Senior Fellow and an English major from Verona, New Jersey, a beautiful-sounding town from a state often accused of smelling like an armpit. More recently, though, I just returned from studying abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Spring 2014. (I wanted to study in Ireland but Oxy didn’t have a direct program there so I worked with the International Programs Office (IPO) to find a program that was a good match for me!) It isn’t “just” anymore--I left Dublin in May and I was only in Ireland for about five months. My attempts at Irish dancing never stopped being funny, I never fully came to understand the Irish obsession with beets, and I never successfully pulled off an Irish accent without being told that it was so bad as to be offensive.
But I also haven’t completely stopped missing it there. The colors are different. You thought you knew what the color green was and then you get off the plane and you were wrong. Galway girls are real: black hair, blue eyes. Everything you heard about the rain is true. It seeps through my backpack and curdles the corners of my notebooks. The hummus tastes better. Middle-aged people run for the bus with pointed toes. Homeless people read books. Snookie-ites in stilettos bend and bobble on bambi legs navigating the cobblestone walkways around Trinity College to go out for a pint. You are not allowed to sit on the grass and you are nobody if you are not jaywalking.
One of my best friends in Ireland told me once, after a backpacking trip, that she wished if a pebble was stuck in your shoe long enough it would have an oyster-effect and turn into a pearl.
After being abroad, readjustment is real and it can be difficult at times- like the prickling discomfort of a pebble in your shoe. But during an interview I was conducting last week I came to an unexpected realization. “Alright, now do you have any questions for me about my experience at Oxy?” I asked the prospective student. “Yeah, so what is your favorite part of Oxy?” she said.
Without thinking, I told her that my favorite part of Oxy is the way that Oxy operates as an access-point to so many different worlds. There is the immediate world of Oxy life but, then, during my time here I’ve volunteered at high schools and preschools in Eagle Rock, biked through Downtown during Ciclavia, picked persimmons at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, and gone to a mindfulness retreat in Escondido: all through Oxy.
Oxy gave me the opportunity to test out Campaign Semester, working for senatorial candidate, Clare Mccaskill in St Louis, Missouri and, ultimately, to study abroad in Ireland. I have friends who are in New York right now working at the UN and when I visited Amsterdam during my time abroad I ran into another Oxy student in the train station within less than five minutes. It is getting harder and harder to miss Dublin. I’ve recently made friends with some English exchange students here at Oxy and walking around with them it is hard not to feel like I am studying abroad again right here in Eagle Rock.