Today’s blog post comes to us from Lesley University student & API blogger Melanie Mathewson. She’s studying abroad with us in beautiful Dubrovnik, Croatia! She’s sharing the anticipation she felt before her program began, as well as her first thoughts on Dubrovnik.
January 8, 2019
Today the majority of my friends studying abroad arrived in their host country.
For the next three weeks, I will be living my abroad experience vicariously through them, which has already catalyzed my own excitement to arrive in, and explore Dubrovnik. I have heard very positive reports of “I love my roommate!” and “I just had the best breakfast of my life” from friends who are studying in London and Rome.
To quell my eagerness to start the Dubrovnik program, I have looked at just about every travel and study abroad website recommending everything from packing clothes that you expect to wear out, to bringing your own can opener. While this plethora of information has been helpful, it seems to be adding more stress than I expected. What if I pack too much or too little? What if I don’t meet people I mesh with? Or, what if I can’t understand the language well enough to communicate?
It is easy to get caught up in these “what ifs” and stress myself out to the point of anxiety. However it is also easy to allow myself to relax, take the information I have learned and use it in a positive way. I know I’ll learn as I go and I know I’ll make mistakes in the process, but my goal is to not fear these mistakes but rather better myself and my experience from them.
February 8, 2019
It’s the little things
It hasn’t been the language barrier, political position, or geographic location of Croatia that has surprised me the most. It’s been the little things; the things I would have never known were different had it not been for my abroad experience.
On my run today, I knew exactly how long I would have to wait for the stop light to turn red and the walk sign to come on. No, I haven’t become telepathic or anything cool like that. Instead, there are timers positioned next to the stop lights that tell drivers how many seconds they have left to make the green light.
Returning from my run, I banged my head on the gate outside my apartment. Why? Well, contrary to most doors in the U.S., you pull doors to open them rather than push. A lesson I sadly had to learn the hard way. Upon entering my apartment, I poured myself a glass of water from the gallon jugs my roommate and I purchased at the supermarket. There had been heavy rains for the past few days and the tap water was not safe to drink.
After a shower and a quick two-minute walk to Dubrovnik’s Old Town, I stopped for beautifully crafted and wholly unprocessed gelato. The best part? A scoop in a cone totaled a mere 75 cents. If it isn’t the crystal clear water or glorious city walls that convince you to explore Dubrovnik, the 75 cent gelato will.