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Finding Home While Studying Abroad

Study abroad participants discover home across the globe. Photo by Caroline Longoria

As I walked down the cobblestone streets of Maastricht, a city in the south of the Netherlands, I would have never expected to end up where I was today. I almost knew every nook and cranny of this city, just from the five spectacular weeks I’ve spent here. My walk to class was on auto-pilot, every step was a step closer to one of the last days of class. Sixteen days of class went by as fast as my trips on the weekends. When I left the United States, I would tell my friends and family that I was “visiting Maastricht,” and that I would be spending five weeks there. Little did I know that “visiting” turned into “living.”

Home: it is a word that has multiple meanings to different people. Is home with people you love? Or a place of comfort? I always thought “home” was a word that I used when I was in Chicago, or at my apartment in Waco, Texas, but never had I thought “home” meant the Guest House in Maastricht. The way I see it now, “home” is going home to the Guest House after a long hot day, after four hours of class, and multiple other hours of exploring the city and taking time at dinner. “Home” is where all my new friends gathered for snacks and soft drinks in the lobby of the Guest House, where we all suffered through homework together, and even writing our 3,500-word final paper. “Home” is the feeling when you get off the train at Maastricht, and take the bus to the Guest House. “Home” is where the heart is.

During my stay in Maastricht, my expectations have completely changed. Some place that was so foreign to me is now a place that I cannot wait to go back to. After staying in a hotel, hostel, or AirBnB for the weekend, the only bed I can think about is at the Guest House. My question was: how had a foreign city become like a home in five weeks? My answer: time. The time you spend in places you love change the scope of how you see your home. Your first impression will always change, and no matter how short of a time you spend somewhere, if you just “click” with that place, who is to tell you that you don’t belong there? The more time you spend in a particular place, the more your love for it and knowledge of it will grow.

It is hard to believe that my new “home” consists of no free water, no free restrooms, an area that is full of a language that I still don’t understand, a place with barely any ice cubes, and a city where bikers rule the streets. Going back to the States will be an adjustment, but what move isn’t? I have thoroughly enjoyed the time that I have spent in Maastricht, and can’t way for any further adventures I take on the weekends!


About Caroline Longoria

 

Hello! My name is Caroline Longoria, I’m from Lake Forest, IL, just outside of Chicago! I am majoring in Speech Pathology at Baylor University in Waco, Texas! This summer I will be embarking on the greatest trip of my life! I’m so excited to be able to share my experiences and adventures I learn along the way! 

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