Same Eyes, New Lenses

Tarah Fisher is a 3rd year studying Psychology who spent her Fall 2017 semester with Semester at Sea. See her reflection on her experience below!

It’s been over two weeks since I’ve returned to Virginia. I’m back in Charlottesville

beginning Sorority Recruitment. The stark contrast between what I’ll be doing tomorrow, that is small talk with hundreds of first years, and what I was doing two weeks ago has me reflecting.

The day we disembarked, I cried like a baby. I didn’t know if I’d ever see these people again. I cried for the second time when I saw my father at the airport.

Did study abroad change my life like most returnees claim it changed theirs? I thought about this a lot on my last few days on the ship. I couldn’t tell you that my life has changed, that I’m a new person, or that if you study abroad your life will change. I notice change in the subtle ways. I am more aware of what if feels like to be a foreigner in a country where you don’t speak the language, and how that smile from a local truly makes a difference. International news hits close to home more than ever before. When I see the South African President in the news, I think of the South Africans I met, and what they must be thinking. I’m able to say more about Africa than “there are starving children there”. I can deal with things that don’t go my way and I don’t let them ruin my day. I can navigate a city with only a handheld map.

People have told me I’ve changed. I have seen the world with a new lens, but it’s always been the same eyes behind them. If anything, my voyage has sparked a thirst for more. I will never stop traveling. I will never stop searching for new places to pull me outside of my comfort zone. Maybe one day, without me even noticing it, I will have transformed into the global citizen I’ve always wanted to be.

So how do I sum up my voyage? How do I put four months worth of experiences into a sentence? What do I say when people ask, how was it? “It was amazing,” doesn’t begin to explain it. I may not be able to convey it all through words. There will be subtle details that contribute to the big picture that I’ll forget.

But I’ll always have my friends who stood there beside me as we experienced everything together, and that’s something I can count on.

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