Finishing up in UCSB

It has been a while hasn’t it since I last made contact with you, my avid followers?! Having abandoned my promise of logging my last days in California, I’m typing now, wishing I had continued it. It’s been just over 2 months since I got back to the UK, and I cannot even begin to explain how weird it feels being back on the island I call “home”. But before I start about coming home, I think it’s best to reflect on my year abroad in it’s entirety.

My time in California had shaky beginnings as per the earlier blogs, but the year in all has been nothing but pure bliss. Since coming back, I realised I didn’t go for the study abroad experience with expectations as such. It was more about developing myself as someone who can adapt to whatever situation I find myself in. So if that counts as an expectation, then I think I’ve definitely ticked that particular box. Other than that, making some amazing friends along the way, experiencing the californian way of living, the traveling, the biking and the randomness that is so inexplicably part and parcel of studying abroad were additional extras that made the experience so much more unique and enjoyable.
After coming back and being asked by friends and family, what were the highs and lows…I usually respond “read the blog or see the pictures” 😉 and in honesty there are too many highs and too few lows to list. When you look back, it’s always easier to remember the highs of cali life and most of them involve a particular situation, or a wonderful place that I travelled to but at the same time some of the highs are just random events, shared memories or mundane day to day things that may not seem that interesting. Such events include my trips to San Francisco, Yosemite, Chicago but also events like watching my first meteor shower and then enjoying a good hot chocolate in the company of my best friends, or even while cycling along the coastal route and being lucky enough to spot dolphins jumping in and out of the pacific. There’s also the mundane things like enjoying a frozen yoghurt from Sweet Alley with my flatmate Nicola while having one of our weird and wonderful discussions that would probably be deemed inappropriate by others…I have to use a quote from Up! and those who have seen it will understand “It might sound boring, but I think boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most”. As for the lows, they don’t matter and I can’t say I can think of any that caused any particular grief.
The experience was just too special and I imagine it would be completely different if I ever did it again. The psychologist in me is trying to account for all the factors that would have to stay constant to make the experience similar, and as you can imagine there are too many factors. With hindsight, you’d think you could do things differently but we all know what happened in the Butterfly effect and those that are not familiar with the film, just consider chaos theory…i.e. small differences in the initial condition of a dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behaviour of the system.

The experience as such is for everyone! I’m not a fan of using phrases like “developing a global perspective” as they are semantically ambiguous and yes yes…one of you are thinking of commenting “your face is semantically ambiguous” 😉 but joking aside, it’s difficult to explain what a global perspective is. But if global perspective means getting to know people from all over the world, living a different way of life, experiencing a different culture, learning to manage everything by yourself, adjusting to a different academic system and not complaining/talking about weather…then I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t benefit from participating in a year abroad! The sheer thrill in exploring a new place, discovering the nuances that make the culture and people so different, paying attention to cultural ambiguities like “jay-walking”, challenging yourself to do better in multiple choice exams  and even just not having to prepare for the conundrums of variable weather make the whole experience worth it!

So I’ll end by saying who knows what a study abroad experience will do for you…


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