My Esteemed Brethren,
I hope each and every one of you is doing well and having an amazing semester. It has felt like forever since I have been with you, but I can’t wait to be together again soon in August in hear all about your semesters and summer festivities. I believe I was one of the first people to leave for study abroad this year, so I am fast approaching the date that marks three full months here in Scotland. I will tell you one thing, it hasn’t felt anywhere close to three months!
Upon my arrival, I was required to adjust rather quickly to the below freezing temperatures of Scotland and an ever constant wind here in the country that seems to always be blowing at you, not matter what direction you face. Another initial challenge I faced was registering for classes. No matter where in the world you are, registration isn’t fun and often has its bumps in the road, but I have never quite experienced a registration process like this one. It took me weeks to get registered for a Spanish class. Now to top it all off, my Spanish teacher is leading a teachers’ strike against the new U.K. Teachers’ Pension Plan, so I haven’t had Spanish class in about a month. It was nice having even fewer responsibilities to manage in the beginning, but now that the strike has continued and I’ve missed a decent chunk of class, I worry about receiving credit for the class…
Enough of the challenges though because those seriously were the only three things “slightly upsetting” about being abroad. My last day of class is March 29th and then I have a three week spring break which I am using to travel with friends and visit other Brothers in their study abroad cities! And speaking of visiting Brothers, roughly a week ago SOU had our own reunion (BBR Abroad if you will) in Dublin for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to travel around Europe and have seen some truly amazing places, but there is no doubt in my mind living in a cramped Airbnb for 2 nights and riding a forty-five minute train to and from Dublin twice a day with fifteen SOU brothers was my favorite abroad experience so far. Dublin for St. Pats is far more Americanized than I ever imagined, but we stuck together, helped each other out, and made sure no brother was left behind.
For those of you who have been abroad before, each of you knows the temptation and pressure to follow a group and to go where everyone else wants to go. I battled this in the beginning, but reflected on the matter and was really able to find a peaceful balance. So for those going abroad in the near future, my advice to you is this: research travel opportunities near you either before coming abroad or soon after your arrival. Suggest these options to others and see if people want to join you in your travels, but do not be discouraged if others have other destinations in mind. Traveling alone is eye opening and rewarding! Never sacrifice your own goals and dreams to follow a group to destinations that may not even interest you.
I can’t wait to be back with you and to meet the current Sigma class. From what I’ve heard, SOU is doing great things this semester and I’m eager to experience that once again for myself. I have many stories to tell my Brothers, and I’m excited to hear your stories as well. Study hard and have a great end to your semester. Lastly, to all the seniors that I am unable to see before graduation, thank you for all that you have done for me. Each of you has molded this organization into a brotherhood I am proud to be a part of, and each of you has served as an inspiration to me as I have grown professionally, socially, and culturally. To end on a cliché… this is not goodbye, it is see you later (at a tailgate in Memorial in the Fall hopefully).
Hi!! I hope you are all doing EXCELLENT. It doesn’t even seem real that I’m living on a different continent than most of you, but I miss each of you so much and can’t wait for another semester full of game days and BBR shenanigans.
Abroad is so many things. Abroad is hard. But abroad is beautiful. It’s eye opening and intriguing and terrifying and humbling, each encounter altering my view on something I’d previously never thought twice about. I’m living in a medieval fantasyland full of cave bars and castles and perfectly pastel buildings, where each street or twisting alleyway leads me deeper into the most unique city I’ve ever experienced. Prague is endlessly elegant while somehow still so darkly mysterious, leaving me only wanting to explore it more and more. People talk about how abroad changes you, but I never realized how much I could fall in love with the concept of living somewhere so unfamiliar.
Traveling is thrilling. Bus rides and trams and subways and planes and overpriced taxis and somehow I find myself in a cafe in Slovakia or a boat in the canals of Amsterdam (and, in some of my more shameful moments, in a T.G.I. Friday’s in Hungary or a McDonalds in Ireland). But abroad isn’t only about getting to experience all the beautiful instagram-worthy locations, it’s also about learning how to live a completely different lifestyle. And sometimes that can be HARD. Simple tasks like laundry or grocery shopping are remarkably more difficult, and communicating with people who barely speak English can be so discouraging. The Czechs are void of the southern charm that has surrounded me my whole life, often leaving me feeling inadequately American or just out of place. But a piece of advice I have to any future travelers is to never let the minute difficulties of living abroad be discouraging. Be comfortable with who you are, embrace your situation, and appreciate the cultural differences that surround you. I promise that fully immersing yourself in your home country will make your abroad experience rewarding and powerful.
It will always be SO weird to think about life going on in Columbia without me, but I’m living in a dream. I encourage you to never stop exploring, even if it’s just going on a day trip to somewhere nearby Cola or buying a $50 plane ticket to a state you’ve never been to before (try United or Frontier). Study abroad has given me so many opportunities to explore the world, but there are so many adventures to go on wherever you are. I miss you all and can’t wait to see you next semester, I hope you’re all having the best of times in the city of dreams. ❤️
I hope the semester has been off to a great start and I can’t wait to see you all again in August! I have been in Italy for over a month now and it feels like I just got here yesterday. Being in a new, unfamiliar city is a crazy, yet exciting experience. My trip started out rocky when my flight got delayed four hours in Boston and then cancelled! I had to fly out the following night and I ended up missing my program’s entire welcome event/ orientation- to say I was stressed out would be an understatement. The rest of my trip has thankfully gone much smoother and each day I continue to find new things about Florence that I love. Although it is not always fun to walk in the cold, I signed up for a class called Florentine Art Walks and I am seeing so much more of the city than I ever would on my own. If you have the opportunity, take a fun elective abroad!
One tip that I would share to you all is to take your time. There is so much to see when you come abroad and so many places to go, especially when you can reach so many other cities by bus or train. But it’s important to move at your own pace and create your own schedule in whichever city you end up in. It is easy to get caught up in all the beautiful countries you could visit but it’s still important to explore your own city and see all that it has to offer. When I first got here, all anyone could talk about was where they wanted to go which weekend or how stressed they were to plan their spring break trips. But you have four months abroad, and so much time to see the places you want to go. Some of my favorite weekends so far were spent enjoying Florence!
As grateful as I am for this experience to study abroad in Europe, I still have a piece of me left in Columbia and I can’t wait to see you all again.
I know the beginning of this month caused serious tension between some of you, and I hope that all the loyal Pats fans have begun to mend their broken hearts and restore their relationships. My month began with a trip to Prague, Bratislava, and Vienna, and besides constantly being cold, I had an amazing time. I’m thankful I'm not studying in Prague, though, because I would easily gain 20 pounds eating trdelnik after every meal. Maci and Skyler, godspeed. It’s hard to believe that I have already been living in Madrid for almost two months, and man, what a place to call home. I go to Retiro every chance I get, I am officially basic for how frequently I watch sunsets at Templo de Debod, I have fallen in love with croquetas and eat bocadillos for approximately 50% of my meals, and I have developed a moderate to severe addiction to cafe con leche. I have also met some incredible people here from all over the world, and it’s really cool to be able to relate to so many of them because I have a brother that has studied at their uni before or is studying there now. So, thanks for helping me make more friends. Oh yeah, my vocabulary has already adapted and I can’t wait to annoy you all by talking about my uni and my flat :). Speaking of my flat, one of my flatmates and I went on a trip to Morocco at the end of February and we ran into Ally and Cody while walking through the markets of Chefchaouen...casual right? I love visiting the places each of you fell in love with and having the opportunity to fall in love with them myself. I now understand why everyone that studies abroad (or should I say goes on exchange) has a constant desire to talk about it, but can never seem to find the right words to describe all that they saw and felt. I already know that I will face the same struggle when I come home but I am so excited to talk your ears off about how wonderful Madrid is. Until then, I hope your lives are still filled with puns and Chacos in my absence. I miss you all; don’t be strangers!!
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I hope you all are doing well! I’ve been in Madrid for close to 4 weeks now, and they honestly have been some of the most enjoyable and eye-opening weeks of my life. I think I’m going to be one of those people that comes back and has to be forced to stop talking about their experience abroad (@Madi Lawton). Way less people in Madrid speak English than I had expected, but it’s forcing me to use my Spanish every day, and I’m thankful for that. I firmly believe that learning a new language is the #1 thing you can do to open yourself up to new opportunities and experiences. Example: today, I got a haircut and my eyebrows done (I always do it the same day so I feel fresh), and I did it entirely in Spanish. I actually debated this for a couple days because I had read online that there were some decent English-speaking options for these services (keyword: “decent”). Then, I noticed that there were two places within a 10-minute walk to me that both had five stars on Google. Specifically, they had over 100 reviews and legitimately 5.0 stars out of 5.0. The catch? No English. I was very nervous because, although I am pretty confident with my Spanish skills, I didn’t want to give them incorrect guidance. However, I took the risk and it DEFINITELY paid off; the haircut was easily the best one I’ve ever had. There are also so many amazing places to eat here, including an amazing taco place where the tacos are like 2000 times better than Cantina’s and only 1 euro each, as well as a churro place that’s famous for its chocolate dip and is open 24 hours. My coffee habits have actually improved since I’ve been here, but last week I found this tiny coffee place (it’s literally one small room with no places to sit) a three-minute walk from where Betsy and I go to school; I think she can agree that it’s one of the best cups of coffee we’ve ever had. Speaking of Betsy, Ally and I (among others) celebrated her 21st birthday the other night. NIBS, our mom is legal!! Jordan and Hannah came to visit a few days before that, and of course it was great to see them too. To wrap this up, here’s a study abroad tip I want to share with you all, especially because I think it’s applicable in Columbia, SC as well: Explore new places on your own. Especially if you’re in a European city, public transportation is incredible and can basically take you anywhere (Madrid’s metro system has over 120 stops). I’ve spent countless hours looking on Google Maps for a cool coffee shop, park, scenic area, etc. and then just going there and walking around. When you’re alone, you pay much more attention to what’s going on around you and notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. I miss you all and hope you do so many great professional, cultural, and social things while I’m gone! If any of you have questions or just want to chat, feel free to reach out; I’d love to hear from you.
Hello from Oslo!
I want to begin by saying that I miss each of you, and I hope that this semester is wonderful for everyone!
Things are going well here in Norway; it’s a little chilly, not gonna lie, but I’m all settled, and my classes are off to a good start. Nothing has come easily, though. My first day in Oslo, I nearly stressed myself to death trying to navigate the public transit and get to my apartment before it got dark (which is about 3:30 PM here). It’s also a challenge leaving people and places I love behind in another hemisphere, especially since FOMO real, but I’ve learned to live with BOWMO—Being Okay With Missing Out. The thing that matters the most for the next five months is being resilient and internalizing every meaningful experience I have. I know that while I’m here, I have the chance to do great things like getting a unique educational perspective, seeing beautiful works of art, and adventuring into the vastness of Europe. More importantly, though, I’ve learned to love the little things about being abroad. To name a few—finding Norway’s version of Nutella, FaceTiming with my roommate in the US to watch SNL because I don’t get NBC here, and seeing the beautiful sunrise on my commute to class. The little things that remind me of home have helped me find a home in Oslo.
That being said, being abroad is awesome, as many of you already know. My school has a significant number of international students, so it’s very interesting to have conversations with many people I’ve met here. My favorite thing I’ve done so far is “sledging,” which felt as if I was sledding in the X Games, and I’m super excited about finally getting to downhill ski here. Life is good, and I have to thank an amazing brotherhood that’s helped me prepare for life in another country.
Here’s to the rest of the semester! Skol!
Hey brothers! I first want to start with how grateful I am for this organization that is so heavily focused on cultivating global leaders through the form of study abroad, because this adventure has been absolutely incredible. I have met so many amazing people from around the world, and have been able to learn about their experiences up until this point. Even though you start this adventure alone, you get to meet so many different people who also started where you were when you stepped off the plane. Since I landed in Germany on January 3rd, I feel like I have not been able to sit still. I attended my first Füßball game in Germany, where I was able to see Borussia Dortmund play. The atmosphere was insane, and it definitely gave Willy B a challenge. I then ventured to Brussels, Belgium where we explored the beautiful city and got to tour European Parliament. Other than that, this first month abroad has really been learning more about the country and culture of Germany by touring castles (since there is a castle about every 5 miles), learning the beauty of the train system here, admiring the beauty of the Rhine, and of course tasting all of the beer. Don't worry, I've also been attending class. The classes here are amazing, and are taught by some of the most renowned business people. Class itself is honestly a great networking opportunity. I am really looking forward to these next three months of travel, school, and having the best time of my life. I really miss every single one of you, but adventure calls. Best of luck this semester, and I look forward to seeing you all in May!
- AJ Guffey
SOU Bros Abroad
This blog serves to highlight the experiences and tips that Brothers studying abroad have.