I hope you are all out enjoying Columbia’s lovely Spring weather. I just returned home to the sun city of Madrid from my spring break trip through Central Europe. I think I can safely say that no jacket in my Columbia wardrobe would be fit for the chilly weather up there—props to brother Olivia surviving up in Norway.
Studying abroad has been nothing of what I expected but everything that I had hoped for. It sounds cliché but often I wake up high on life, literally smiling to myself as I open the doors to my balcony overlooking Madrid’s city center, excited for where I’m going to go, who I’m going to meet, and what I am going to learn that day. I live with one friend from USC and 7 other flat mates from all over Europe. Every Sunday, we have a tradition where one flat mate cooks a meal from their home country and we all sit down at the table together to eat and catch each other up on our weeks. Although so simple, seating nine people in our shoebox apartment has made me some of the best memories laughing around a table of different languages, personalities, and interests. Perfect places are not always physical, they are a mindset of doing what you love and loving what you do. “Ama lo que haces.”
So here’s my advice to you wherever you are…get out and create your perfect place! This advice can be applied both in and outside of the classroom while abroad. Challenge yourself to take a course like Age of Globalization or Geopolitics taught in a foreign language and I promise you will be amazed at your progress over the semester. One of my favorite ways to spend my free time in Madrid is to find new running routes with my flat mates. Even if running isn’t your thing, put in music and just walk around alone for a couple hours. Don’t have a destination in mind or even glance at a map, literally just wander wherever the streets take you and you’ll be surprised at the new cafes, parks, shops, views, people and other things you find. Abroad is one of the only times in your life where academic/work responsibilities are not priority, so unsubscribe from Netflix for the semester and use your time wisely.
Lastly, document your travels and experiences in a way that makes sense for you. Take time to record your thoughts and feelings as you grow throughout the semester so that you have something to look back and reminisce on—whether it be a journal, blog, or even an infamous finsta. For me this meant updating a weekly blog for close friends and family. It’s time-consuming to keep up with people back in the States, so offer them a way to keep up with you that won’t take away from your precious time abroad.
To the seniors: I sincerely wish you the best in your future endeavors. As you know, SOU won’t be the same without your graduating class but I am so excited to see what you move on to accomplish as SOU alum.
To the new pledge class: I look forward to getting to know you all and I hope that you’re just as excited to meet the brothers abroad as we are to meet you (some of them are pretty great if I do say so myself).
See you soon,
P.S: Three of my friends from England will be visiting America for a South Carolina GAMEDAY this September. They’ve heard all about you, so I expect everyone to bring their business professional and show them an appropriate SEC tailgate at the SOU tent.
First, I miss you all and second, thank you. I remember one of my last days in Darla last semester and talking with a brother (@Sophia) and her telling me she would do absolutely anything to be in my shoes about to go abroad. With only my final three weeks remaining in this beautiful and humbling experience, I finally can understand what all of you meant when you said this was an experience of a lifetime. So thank you to each and every one of you who answered my endless questions.
Prague is the most fascinating city I have ever been, you could say I’m biased but it is one of the most breath taking places with incredible architecture and endless places to explore for the restless traveler. While I have had my fair share of travels while abroad, Prague never ceases to be my favorite. The rather snowy and dark atmosphere was a lifestyle shift for me initially, still I fell in love with Praha every day. At first, I contested studying in such a place that I thought would have the living conditions of a tundra. Per my mother’s advice to “simply buy a coat Mace,” I luckily ended up in this magical medieval city. Honestly, my parka became my best friend and the snow just seemed to fit this Game of Thrones-esque city. Right as that happened, spring came to Prague unveiling unexpected warm temperatures, flower gardens, and even more things to do just as I thought it couldn’t get any better. Our favorite days now include paddle boating on the Voltava River and finding the perfect park to sit with our friends overlooking the city until sunset.
The school aspect? Not bad. But I still find myself sometimes staying up until very unreasonable hours in the night to complete my school work after spending a long weekend in Amsterdam or potentially hypothetically booking a flight to Barcelona cutting it close to my very last exam.
I know you guys had a great St Pats because it’s Cola, but I can’t even begin to describe to you all the pure joy of seeing 20 of my closest friends (brothers) in Dublin. Waking up at 6am to “the lit Irish song” to sprint to the train in a blizzard in Laytown to make it in time for the St Pats Festival in Dublin was beyond worth it. Especially for that one moment when both of the SOU houses in Ireland united and a solid 20% of this brotherhood took over the train into the city for every Gamecock’s favorite holiday.
So we’re all about cultural awareness and wow Czech culture is something else. First of all, the language itself is a wild ride and it’s been really fun getting to learn a somewhat exotic language; where it seems like someone tossed a bunch of consonants together with endless accents. I now can pronounce a few words (yes I’m looking forward to my trip to Spain to whip out some Español) but taking the Czech language class was definitely one of my best decisions abroad. Czech people certainly don’t cater to the whole southern hospitality situation that a North Carolina girl is used to. Quite the contrary. At first, I took a lot of their cultural habits as rude until I truly understood that they’re just forward in every interaction, an aspect I’ve actually grown very fond of. You always know where you stand.
The best advice I can give to anyone wanting to come abroad is to go out and do things. Sounds simple but my best days have been when we started out wanting to grab that $1 slice of pizza beside our dorms and thankfully made the journey into town and got blissfully lost for the day. Hang out with anyone and everyone. It’s amazing how close you can get to people exploring a continent and how many interesting stories you can hear from that Swedish professional snow boarder someone invited to join your squad at dinner so they didn’t eat alone. My recommendation for planning your trips is to pick a few places that you absolutely must see and then wait and learn what other opportunities present themselves in your new home. Never did I ever see myself (not to mention, barely heard of) journeying to South Moravia or Cesky Krumlov but these trips have offered me surprising views of astonishing castles and a greater understanding of the region I’m studying in.
I miss you all daily, probably just as much as I miss Chick-fil-A… maybe more. I can’t wait to catch up with everything USC and SOU related! Good luck on finals as we approach that time! And seniors, don’t go too far.
Hello from Switzerland! It’s crazy to say I only have a month left here, but my time abroad so far has been absolutely incredible. When trying to recap briefly my semester, I find it difficult to focus more on the places than on the people who have brightened my life since I arrived in Europe. Through my exchange program, I have made friends from all over Europe, South America and even Southeast Asia. My best friend is from California, and I have a trip already planned to visit the Canadians next semester. In class, I’ve been working with German and Swiss students who consistently leave me in awe at their knowledge and worldly experiences. Finding similarities and differences between such a diverse pool of perspectives and that of mine has not only been a fascinating learning opportunity, but it has also provided me with unique friendships that will last a lifetime.
With that being said, my best advice is to, first of all, study abroad (duh) and secondly to push yourself far out of your comfort zone. If you’re a big city person, go somewhere small. Live on a different continent if you know the European culture. When you travel, do it alone or meet a friend in a new city. Stay in hostels and listen to the stories of backpackers that decided to spend a few years just meeting people and traveling. Also, another lesson that I will carry with me forever is that it is okay to have bad days and for things to not go perfectly. Isn’t that the point of all of this – to learn something? On some of the toughest days, I’ve learned so much about my strengths and weaknesses. Instead of becoming consumed with the imperfections of life, embrace them. Lastly, and most importantly, take time for yourself during your study abroad experience. Read a new book, hike through the mountains, go skydiving! Of all times to focus on yourself, take the opportunity to do it in a beautiful place when there most likely isn’t a worry in the world for you.
Overall, I’ve been to Munich, Strasbourg, Amsterdam, Interlaken, Budapest, Berlin, Zurich, Marrakech and Prague. Each city was absolutely amazing especially because most of the trips included meeting and exploring with some of my best friends from school or home. It’s weird that I’ll be coming back to reality soon, but I cannot wait to return for senior year and tell all of my crazy stories. I miss all of you and am looking forward to meeting all the new brothers! Congrats to those graduating – I can’t wait to see all of the incredible things you guys accomplish. See everyone else in the fall !!!
It’s hard to believe I’m halfway done with my term here at Warwick. With five countries under my belt in five weeks and seven more lined up in the next six weeks, it’s safe to say I’ve kept myself busy. I feel like I’ve got so little time in Europe, and I’m sure a lot of you felt the same way during your term abroad.
When it comes down to it though, I really have a lot of you to thank for this experience. Yes, I was going to study abroad regardless, but hearing about the unique cultural experiences that my brothers in SOU have had inspired me to make sure I had the same experience and I could look back a month, a year, or ten years later satisfied because I know I was able to get the most out of my brief term abroad. It’s definitely been a push to my comfort zone, far more than I could have imagined before joining SOU. So, in sum, thank you to everyone who shared your experience with me and motivated me to push myself outside my comfort zone and really make the most out of my time abroad.
It's been incredible seeing everyone’s experiences here in Europe, and it’s wild to think about how different each of our experiences will be. I’m excited to hear all about each person’s study abroad experience, but I’m also excited to hear all about this Spring semester I’m missing out on! I know there’s definitely a lot I’m missing from back home in SC; warm weather and the sun (we don’t get much of either here in England), hearing people say “y’all,” and, of course, especially all of you guys. I’d love to hear from you guys and catch up on what’s going on in Columbia! I’ll see you all soon, cheers from England!
I just want to start out by saying that I miss you all so much! As many of you know I am studying abroad this semester in Sevilla, Spain (or Seville as the americans say), and brother Hannah Marcheschi is my roommate. Living in Spain for the past two months has been the best experience of my life, so if you are debating studying abroad - DO IT. The city of Sevilla is the most beautiful place I have ever been, so if you've never been please come visit. I am about half way through my program and I have been to Madrid, Toledo, Cádiz, Barcelona, Málaga, Córdoba, Granada, and Gibraltar, a British territory connected to the south of Spain. This past weekend, about 13 of our brothers studying abroad all met up in Dublin, Ireland to celebrate St. Pats the Irish way! I have been some pretty amazing places, but getting to spend the weekend with my brothers that I missed so much made it my best weekend abroad by far! For future study abroad brothers, I have two pieces of advice for you. First, plan a weekend trip with all of the abroad brothers that semester. Whether you continue the St. Pat's tradition in Ireland or not, meet up with them somewhere because it is so heartwarming and amazing to see them. Second, while abroad, use Bla Bla car! It is basically a long distance Uber. I have used it to get to other cities in Spain many times and it is so so cheap, so use it! Hopefully these two things help you as much as they helped me. Thanks for reading my letter from abroad, and I can't wait to be reunited with you all this summer and fall!
It seems like it’s been ages since I’ve seen all of your lovely faces but also feels like I was at usc just seconds ago. Abroad has flown by and I am not ready to accept the fact that is more than halfway over. My experiences so far have been nothing short of extraordinary. I started out my journey with a trip to London and Paris before reaching my home city of Florence. Starting abroad out with a vacation makes this whole experience feel like one. Since being here I’ve got the chance to travel to many different countries and cities and be forced outside my comfort zone. For example yesterday we went zip lining through the mountains of Croatia on a whim. I’d have to say my favorite trips are ones where I get to meet up with other brothers and experience their cities (special shout out to jordan for showing me the very warm Seville just when I needed sun in my life). However, the most legendary trip of all was when almost all the brothers abroad( with special appearances from Joe and Kat) were able to meet up and celebrate St. Pats in Dublin! It was the most incredible experience and it genuinely felt like a piece of home was with me there in Ireland.
Each and every city has been a dream there is something unique and special to all of them. I’ve learned something about myself on every trip. But, there’s nothing like home and I’m forever grateful mine is Florence. The people I’ve met, the sites I walk by on a daily basis, and of course the FOOD. Seriously if you ever find yourself in Florence feel free to @me for some food recommendations. I have an extensive list as well as a gelato rating based on a preference matrix. It’s not just the food that blows me away but the people that make it. We’ve made best friends with the boys at the panini shop and the girls at bakery close to home. The locals are are always willing to help me with my attempts at Italian.
I don’t know how I’m ever going to transition back to regular diet or if I ever will. But for now I just admire the views and eat gelato at least once a day( that’s not an exaggeration you can ask my roommate or my bank account). I miss Italy and am still here. But all I can say is this experience will impact every part of who I am and I hope each and everyone of you gets the chance to go somewhere out of your comfort zone and learn how to make it your home. I know you are all doing amazing things and I can’t wait to come back and see your growth. Miss you endlessly hope you’re having a great semester!!
P.S. seniors please feel free to not graduate I already miss you too much!
Ciao for now,
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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SOU Bros Abroad
This blog serves to highlight the experiences and tips that Brothers studying abroad have.