By Sophia Anderson ‘15
Part of the reason I wanted to study abroad was so that I could prepare myself for adulthood and life after graduation. As my last semester of Junior year comes to a close, that final day that marks the end of my undergraduate studies is in clear sight, and it is only getting clearer. So I wanted to remove myself from all of the comforts and support that I have at Rhodes (as well as in America) to see how I would manage without them. I wanted to see if, without these luxuries, I might be able to function as an adult might in a world beyond college.
So far, the results of my experiment have been quite positive, and I really do think that I have begun to function as more of an adult since abandoning the comforts of home for a new world that is completely foreign to me. This is in part because I have developed new and more sophisticated habits. For instance, I now drink my coffee black, read the news every morning, can tell the difference between good and bad wine, and order veggie-heavy salads as meals instead of defaulting to whatever on the menu comes with fries (sometimes). But these are not the things that have reassured me of my future as an adult in my time abroad. What really makes me feel ready to start a new life of my own are the interactions I have had with people all over the world. The people that I have met while I have been traveling have been so kind and helpful to me, and it gives me hope that, even without the people that I currently look to for aid, I will never truly be on my own.
My time in Croatia really solidified this notion for me. Each time the two friends that I was traveling with and I were in need, people rushed to our aid when it would have been just as easy to ignore us. For instance, on our flight to Zagreb a friendly flight attendant took it upon himself to ensure that we had ample knowledge of the city by scribbling down all of his favorite places and things to do on a barf bag for us. Later, when our heavy bags were preventing us from being able to freely explore the wondrous Plitvice Lakes, a hotel receptionist let us lock them in a small closet at no charge despite the fact that we were not guests of the hotel. We were rescued again when, after arriving in Split late at night, a shopkeeper helped us find the apartment we were renting, out of the kindness of her heart. Then on our last day in Dubrovnik, two girls who were volunteering for a Catholic Youth Summit that was apparently taking place that afternoon warned us of the potential crowds and the changes in the bus schedule that would be brought on by the event. Had we not been alerted of this, the travel plans that we had made for that night might have been ruined.
These interactions and so many others reassure me that I will still have a support system after graduation, even if the fantastic faculty and staff at Rhodes or my family can’t always be the ones to help me anymore. I now know that I will find compassion in the strangers I meet throughout my adult life as long as I accept the help that others offer me, and return the favor whenever I can.