An Inner Child's Dream Fulfilled

Study Abroad Blog

An Inner Child's Dream Fulfilled

Growing up, I always wanted to go to Europe and I remember always talking with my childhood best friendeiffel about how we were going to go to London and Paris when we grew up. London because we were big Dr. Who fans at the time and Paris because I mean what little girl's dream isn't to go to Paris. Fast forward a decade and I am now a Junior in college entering my senior year and that dream never vanished or dissipated. 

I am minoring in international studies with a focus in global studies which required me to take a class abroad in any country of my choosing no matter the subject. I was originally planning on going to Belize but in my political science class, I was presented with the opportunity for a study abroad program in not just France and the UK but Germany too. As soon as I heard of this summer program, I knew I had to do it. And with the generosity of my family and scholarships from UT Tyler's Office of International Programs, I was well on my way to fulfilling my childhood wanderlust while also building upon my education and visiting the countries of my own personal heritage and ancestry. 


One of my favorite things in all three countries we visited is the restaurant and cafe culture. Once you are seated at a table either at a cafe or a restaurant, that table is yours until you decide to leave no matter how long you wish to stay. You will not feel rushed out by servers or other staff to make room for the next patron. You can take as much time as you like to just enjoy your meal and company of friends and truly live in the moment.  This is very contrasting to what we are used to in the US where it is normal and almost expected to eat, pay, and leave and not dawdle afterwards for too long because you don't want to be an inconvenience. Another thing to expect is to not expect your waiter to come up to you every 10-15 minutes to check if everything is good or to ask you if you want your bill which I personally loved. But you will likely need to kind of flag down your waiter in a calm manner if you need the bill. 


I found Europeans to be incredibly kind, and I never encountered any problems or altercations with anyone. It's important to understand that you are not in the US and to just have patience with people around you and that will be reciprocated - especially if you are in a country where English is not the primary language spoken. 

There are also certain social norms that are quite different in Europe than in the US. Take staring for instance - in America we mostly keep our heads down and avoid eye contact with strangers when walking by. But in Europe, you will find some people will hold eye contact with you as you pass by; however, the staring was not in a rude way. It is just a societal norm that takes some getting used to. Another surprising aspect for me and the others in the program was that if someone bumps into you, you can't always expect an apology or even an acknowledgement. In Europe, it's generally assumed that you understand it was an accident and there are no hard feelings. But if you bump into someone and apologize, you will probably get some odd looks from the person you bumped into. 


Europe, unquestionable, holds a special place in my heart as do the people I met while being on my study abroad journey. I definitely recommend studying abroad for anyone interested in traveling and learning of other cultures- especially if it is their first time leaving the country or Texas because the faculty led study abroad programs also provides you with a support system since there will be others you can depend on and share the experience with. And you will not feel as though you are alone! I am very grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity and definitely hope to go back in the future and spend more time in each country. 


This post was contributed by Olivia, a study abroad alumni from Summer 2023. Olivia is a Social Sciences major with an International Studies minor who went abroad as a part of the UT Tyler Faculty Led Political Science program to Europe.