Alicia Williams, willi217@muohio.edu

As my study abroad experience began to dwindle down, it occurred to me that I would be returning to the United States. While I was very eager to see my family and friends, it was also a troubling thought to have to leave the country I had come to love and saw as my home, as well as the friends that I made and grew accustomed to.

With that being the major burden, other questions ran through my mind such as how my friends would welcome me home, as well as how my body would respond to the changes and jet lag. With all these challenges before me, I boarded my connecting flight to London before heading back to the good ol’ USA.

Upon my arrival home, I realized how much things had changed within me as well as around me. My home now became almost foreign to me. All the emotions and confusion of seeing signs in English, as well as not having to try to translate and overcompensate for language barriers were some of the few culture shocks that I ran into immediately.

Above all, came the shock of being home and getting back into the gist of American living and college life. Although my friends and family welcomed me home with open arms, the most difficult change is the sudden realization of how closed-minded Americans and people around me are.

While I am aware of entitlements of opinion, one thing that I am currently tackling is the fear of Americans leaving the U.S. Leaving the U.S. and going abroad allowed me to see the U.S. outside of American perspectives.

Living as an “immigrant” for four months was an eye opening experience and it made me more open-minded to viewpoints of people who hope to one day immigrate to the U.S. Back here, I often find myself longing to be in Europe again because now it gives me a different view of immigrants here in the U.S. — to see the emotions and inner turmoil that they may go through, not to mention the frequent unwelcoming feelings that ignorant Americans show towards them frustrates me.

Getting the strength to leave the United States, and having the open mind to experience the novelty of other cultures, aided in my transition to feel welcome there and my transition in coming home.

While I was that eager, anxious and fearful young adult just four months ago leaving this country, coming home has showed me that the world is much bigger than that of Oxford, your hometown or your state.

Leaving the country has made me more open-minded as well as tolerant of those different than myself, as well as given me a larger perspective in regards to the regulations and laws that we have in the U.S. as opposed to other countries.

While I may not agree with some of the social and political aspects of this country, I am grateful for the somewhat unlimited opportunities that I have to speak out against legislation I feel is wrong, as opposed to other cultures that aren’t that fortunate.

Leaving the country has given me a better mindset in regards to cultures different than my own as well as tolerance of viewpoints on things such as immigration, women’s rights, and worker’s rights as well. As a senior, I think it is highly beneficial for Miami University students to step out of their bubbles and learn that the world is much bigger than sorority and fraternity life, campus organizations, etc.

Especially take advantages of programs other than the Luxembourg program. The skills and perspectives that can be taught abroad will be important in “the real world” outside of the small town of Oxford.

It will give you a more of a well-rounded experience to relate to the people, places and things that are different than you.

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