The time for adventure is now. For college students, they already have one foot out the door. Studying abroad is an option that every college student has and can be a rewarding experience.
Enter Northwest Senior Serena Troshynski, previous features editor for the Northwest Missourian.
“I started planning my trip abroad last fall. I picked up a booklet from the study abroad office on campus and spent a lot of time just imagining what it would be like to really go to a university in Italy or Japan. And then, right before the deadline to apply ended, I decided to go for it,” Troshynski said.
She is currently studying abroad in Ireland for the fall 2015 trimester.
“I picked Ireland because of the beautiful scenery, the friendly people, and the rich literary tradition,” Troshynski said. “I also chose Ireland because my Grandma Rita was Irish, and while I didn't get to tell her I was going to Ireland because she passed away in December, I think she would be extremely tickled to know I was here.”
Of course, being so far away from home has it’s shortcomings, and it didn’t take long for the homesickness to set in.
“My birthday is coming up on Oct. 4th, and I think it might be a sad day, because I will be away from my family and friends. I'm also in a long distance relationship right now, which has its challenges,” Troshynski said. “The time difference certainly doesn't help. I'm 6 hours ahead (of) everyone, so I normally stay up until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. in the morning to talk to everyone after they get off work.”
As Serena mentioned, she is in a long distance relationship and balances contact with her family, friends and significant other. However, the thousands of miles that separate the two is not an obstacle they cannot face.
“People like to say that distance makes the heart grow fonder and while that may be true in the long run, it's no consolation for a couple aching to be together again,” Serena’s significant other, Tom Dresslar said. “However, anyone who is truly in love knows this: 3 hours often feels the same as 3 days. Even when we were living in the same town it was tough to be apart, so in some respects, the time apart becomes meaningless. The thought of our eventual reunion often keeps us going.”
Dresslar has some advice and encouragement for others going through a similar situation.
“It's still important to let your significant other retain their individual identity. That's why you should never be afraid to part with them if an amazing opportunity presents itself to either of you,” Dresslar said. “If you're truly in love, then you'll be able to make it through. Remember, you fell in love with the person (he/she) was before you were together.”
With all that said, Troshynski is definitely enjoying her time abroad.
“I want to stay open to all my trip has to offer. Expectations can kill an experience, especially when it comes to studying abroad. There is a lot of pressure to constantly have incredible adventures, but the reality is, I'm also in classes and there is a considerable amount of downtime,” Troshynski said.
She stresses the importance of picking the right place on an individual basis.
“Choosing which country to study in is so important. It's not like a vacation. I was choosing the place I was going to live for the next three months,” Troshynski said. “I really considered studying in London as well. England is a natural fit for an English major, but I couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful it would be to go to Ireland.”
When traveling to another country, it is important to remember that culture varies from country to country, especially when traveling overseas. However, it may also be surprising to find out America and Ireland shares many similarities.
“It's been surprising how much American culture influences Irish and European culture. One of my first nights here I heard a group of Irish and International students singing the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. I thought maybe it was a fluke thing but I've heard it more than once since then,” Troshynski said.
“It's also been interesting to see all the American logos and brands here. In Topshop, there are girls shirts and sweatshirts with NYPD, or New England Patriots on them.”
Food is another issue entirely. Different countries have different cuisines and America’s food is vastly different than European food.
“I'm missing peanut butter over here, the Irish don't seem to eat it! Most people I've talked to say they can't stand the texture or the taste. The grocery stores here import Skippy and Jif in these tiny, expensive jars, but I can't justify buying it. I also can't find applesauce or microwave popcorn anywhere,” Troshynski said.
However, with the tragedy of missing peanut butter and popcorn comes triumph for Troshynski in her travels.
“Make the trip whatever you want it to be. Before I came, a lot of people seemed to think study abroad is just an excuse to party in a foreign country, which is not what I'm about at all. But hey, if that is your thing, there's opportunities for that as well,” Troshynski said. “I would say, just be open. This truly is an experience unlike any other and if you have the chance, go for it.”