Europe Experience Encourages Extracurricular and Extra cultural Involvement

Eva McCord '22, Staff Writer

In the eyes of young adults, traveling abroad itself is a concept rich with the promises of independence, sociability, and experiences filled with reckless abandon. Upon students’ return from mid-winter break, we welcome the February Michigan weather with short sleeved shirts from Cabo, woven bracelets from Madrid, and a multitude of often overpriced keychains from across the globe hanging from our backpacks.  

Despite myself now owning a growing collection of never to be displayed souvenirs, my experience traveling with fellow South students across Europe had a greater emphasis on culture and world-building, rather than taking the ever trendy selfie next to the Eiffel Tower.

The trip spanned the course of ten days, focusing primarily on the highlights of France, Spain, and Italy.  Delayed flights and restaurants selling granola cups for over ten Euros were common occurrences, with the latter quickly becoming a welcomed sight to our jet-lagged selves.  That said, one exceedingly long layover in France resulted in an impromptu tour of Paris, which allowed ourselves to officially look forward to the week ahead.

Inconveniences and tourist behavior aside, the experience emphasized the importance of students having the opportunities that allow them to see the world they live in with their own eyes.  

Moreover, traveling allows one to experience a reality in which their studies can be projected onto real-life scenarios, such as exercising a foreign language or one’s knowledge of social studies. Coming from four years of Spanish education, my fellow classmates and I were relieved to discover that our nervous phrases and pauses spent racking our brains for the correct verb were met with understanding and equal enthusiasm.

We return from our trip with our sunburns and describe to our friends how we all ran barefooted into the Mediterranean Sea, and how they too should start saving up for “the best week of their lives,” when we forget that these memories were results of the people we met and the cultures they share.  Travel is not just about learning about one’s differences to another, but also how they are the same.