In past years I’ve worked really hard to expand my comfort zone and to push past any social anxiety I experienced. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Although I still experience anxiety from time to time, I feel as if the past several months studying abroad has caused it to expand exponentially.
At the end of February, I was able to participate in an igloo building course with my university here in Switzerland. I met up with eight other people from around Europe and, led by a Swiss German, we hiked to the mountains where we not only built the igloos, but also got to sleep in them. We learned techniques and general winter survival skills. There were quite a few gritty parts to the trip like the lack of shower and our elegant bathroom behind a tree; it wasn’t my most glamorous weekend, but I asked (and paid) for it. Despite this, it was one of the most fun and challenging weekends of my life. The challenges came not just from the building of igloos in constant snow, but also from the group of complete strangers thrown together. It was made a bit easier that, apart from a few people, the common language was English, but we still had to work to build our shelters in teams and then also sleep together in tight and cold spaces.
I went back to my Swiss home with quite a few stories to tell and slight more courage to talk to people I would otherwise shy away from, not to mention the inside jokes with people I didn’t know just three days earlier. I will probably never have another chance to do something quite like this course again, but at least I had the experience and was able to check something off my bucket list. However, with having said all the great things about not just this particular experience, but all the new things we get to try while studying abroad, the experiences pass by extremely quickly. We were all warned; “it’s gonna fly by.” And it really does. It’s strange to think about, but I’ve been living in Switzerland for about seven months with only three months left. For the people who have been abroad only a month or two, it may seem like quite a bit of time left. But for me, it feels like it’s coming to an end way too quickly, although I’m sure my mom’s happy about that. It’s hard not to think about what I’m going to do when I get home. I tell other people to focus their energy on the time that’s left. Learn the language and keep exploring the country and now I should follow my own advice.
Despite the short time left, there are still so many things that I want to do before I leave. I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands, Boyce Avenue, in Zurich recently. I never thought I’d get to see them in concert, let alone in Europe! And it was made even better by the fact that I found a few European friends who liked them, too. Now along with that great news, the Swiss equivalent to spring break is coming up in a few weeks and my roommates and I are in the midst of planning our next adventure. Somewhere in this time I might try to find some time for school. Just remember that time goes faster when studying abroad.