What’s the place that changed you?”
We’re eternally nostalgic for college — the things we learned in class and out (okay let’s face it, mostly out) shaped us into the humans we are, quite probably more than any other chapter of our educational lives.
But for those of us who were lucky enough to study abroad, on-campus shenanigans seem like no substitute for the way a faraway place tugged at, molded and grew our souls. Something about the adrenaline rush of independence, coupled with the challenges of adjusting to a new place, language and culture, left us different than before in the BEST possible way.
We asked Huffington Post editors for the singular place that changed them while studying abroad during school. From a cafe in New Zealand to a pier in Spain to a cable car in the Italian mountains, these spots — and the powerful, personal stories that go with them — prove travel truly does change us permanently, and for the better.
Illustrations by Noelle Campbell
“I studied abroad in a neighborhood far away from the city center. It forced me out of my comfort zone — we were the only people in the building who spoke English, and acclimating with a language barrier was eye-opening. I have been inspired to take more risks. While I don’tfully attribute quitting my first job to pursue a writing career to my time spent abroad, it certainly broadened my horizons to do things that may have seemed too scary and uncomfortable before.” —Jamie Feldman, HuffPost associate style editor
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
“For the first few years of college, I didn’t really understand the concept of social drinking — I thought it fostered an environment of fake friendships and stupid decisions. When I experienced this adult carnival that simply celebrated having a good time and Prost-ing to life, it finally clicked. I discovered how to find that middle ground where you can just be silly surrounded by friends without being completely sloshed. It changed my entire outlook on college parties.” —Jessica Kane, HuffPost director of millennial outreach
Driving Creek Cafe in Coromandel, New Zealand
“I worked at a vegetarian cafe in a rural fishing town. I learned the value of stillness. I learned the pleasures of homemade yogurt, hanging laundry out to dry, listening to strangers’ stories, taking the time to cook something or walk somewhere for a tea. Most of all, I really started to love myself for making decisions that had brought me to this beautiful place, despite the many mistakes I had made earlier.” —Antonia Blumberg, HuffPost associate religion editor
Sannai-Maruyama archaeological site in Aomori City, Japan
“When I enrolled in a six-week field school, I had dreams of artifacts springing from the ground like daisies. But when we arrived, we were not allowed to excavate in the actual historical site. Regardless, we went to work and dug big empty dirt square holes, hoping and praying to see something. Looking back, the whole experience helped me to develop an understanding that life is never what you plan or hope it to be, but you can still learn.” —Nicole Edine, Huffpost associate editor of strategic partnerships & social impact platforms . . . .