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When the Journey Ends

In Pictures
Discovering Corfu
Amy Phalen walking on the Greek island of Corfu.
In Pictures
Journey to Morocco
During her study abroad experience in Spain, Angela Battiata visited Marrakesh, Morocco.
In Pictures
A Moroccan Specialty
Morocco is famous for its argan oil. Here, Angela Battiata learned the process of pressing argan tree nuts into oil in Marrakesh.
In Pictures
In the Sahara
Angela Battiata posing with a camel in the Sahara Desert of Morocco.
In Pictures
Greek Isle Adventures
While studying abroad in Florence, Caitlin Ryan also made a trip to Santorini, Greece (left). Meanwhile, Amy Phalen snapped this photo of a market in Mykonos (right).
In Pictures
Selfies through Europe
Caitlyn Sievers in Vatican City, Italy (left) and with her mother in her host city of Prague, Czech Republic.
In Pictures
In Split, Croatia
While studying abroad, Caitlyn Sievers visited 11 countries, including Croatia.
Compiled by Sarah Sweeney

This semester, we’ve followed five Endicott students on transformative study abroad assignments around the globe—but the hardest thing about traveling is that, at some point, you have to come home. Here, in our last installment, the students reflect on their journeys around Europe—and even Africa!—and the bittersweet feeling of returning to the U.S. Need to catch up? Read their first, second, and third dispatches.

Angela Battiata—Madrid, Spain

Now that I’m back home, studying abroad in Madrid feels like a fever dream. Those were the best four months of my entire life. I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to travel and immerse myself in different cultures. 

Last month, a big group of us traveled to Marrakech, Morocco, and it was the best trip I’ve taken so far. We stayed in a beautiful riad with an incredible host, Abdel. Morocco truly opened my eyes to the unique experiences, lifestyles, and cultures all around us. You have to push yourself out there to become a more open-minded and accepting person. It was interesting seeing how some of my friends dealt with culture shock and how they were able to overcome it by immersing themselves in the cultural traditions of Morocco. 

My last two weeks in Madrid were spent taking advantage of all the things I would miss while back in the U.S. My friends and I made a pact to seize the day every weekend by waking up early Saturdays and Sundays. We’d go visit our favorite restaurants for the last time, and try new ones; go to Retiro Park and read, and walk through all of our favorite neighborhoods. My favorite memory of that last weekend was waking up on Sunday and going to the big outdoor flea market called El Rastro. As I walked around and bought gifts for friends and family, I stumbled upon a large gathering of people sitting on steps. There was a group of guys playing and singing flamenco; strangers were all gathered around singing and clapping. As I stayed and listened to them, I truly felt at home. 

Madrid will forever hold a special place in my heart and I know that I will be visiting again shortly. I am so grateful to have made long-lasting friendships. I highly encourage those who are thinking about studying abroad but may be on the fence about it to just do it—you won’t regret your decision. 

Caitlyn Sievers—Prague, Czech Republic

Studying abroad has shown me that I’m much more resilient than I previously might have given myself credit for. Four months ago, I was nervous to get on a plane and live halfway across the world by myself. I was worried that I might not get to experience as much as other Endicott students who were traveling in groups together. 
Certainly, there were times when things didn’t go according to plan: getting lost; awkward interactions with locals, flights and trains that I barely made on time. But in the end, things always worked out and I’ve been able to adopt a more relaxed mindset. Instead of stressing about my day down to the minute, I can just take things as they come. 
In four months, I was able to visit 11 different countries, nearly all of which I traveled to alone. Beyond the enormous learning curve around logistical planning, I’ve also come to realize a lot about myself—activities and places that I truly like to see, not just feel like I should; how I like to budget my time with others, and alone; and how to communicate and live with people so different from me. 
I’ve had a lot of fun while abroad, and I can see myself living outside of the U.S. after college, but I’m excited to come home and see my friends and family. I’ll be able to appreciate the comfort and familiarity of home, of knowing exactly what to expect out of everyday situations that most people don’t think twice about. 

Caitlin Ryan—Florence, Italy

After being home for a little over a week I’ve had some time to reflect on the last three months. I had the time of my life in Florence and I learned so much about myself, the people I was with, and the culture that I was fortunate enough to be immersed in. 

My study abroad experience was one-of-a-kind and I recommend it to everyone. I was lucky enough to travel all over Italy and throughout Europe, visiting both Interlaken, Switzerland, and Santorini, Greece, but I already have a list of places that I want to visit when I go back. 

While I had mixed emotions about leaving, I was very excited to come home. I missed my family, friends, and most importantly, my dogs. Most of the moments were happy, but this adventure was not without its challenges. Being away from home and across the world was extremely hard for me, as I am such a homebody. Similar to being homesick at college, I had the same experience abroad, except that I couldn’t easily go home to see my family. I worked through the homesickness by calling my friends and family back home and trying to stay busy by experiencing new things. All this being said, I would one thousand percent study abroad over and over again if I could.

Amy Phalen—Agia Paraskevi, Greece

I arrived back in the U.S. about three weeks ago and it’s been a big transition back into my life. It’s been great seeing my friends and family at home and being familiar with my surroundings again—yet I do miss my friends from abroad and that lifestyle. I’m so appreciative of my experience in Greece because I think it made me realize how much I love to travel and learn new things. 

I was able to take classes that were different from my major, which I ended up enjoying. While studying abroad, you’re also given so much freedom to do activities that you are interested in and it’s easy to find people whom you can do them with. You become so close with the people around you because you’re all experiencing the same things. 

Studying abroad was such a great experience and I’m so happy that I decided to do it. My biggest takeaway is how much I loved living in a new culture and learning a new lifestyle for an extended period.

Kainu’u Gavin—Cork, Ireland

My time in Ireland and England helped me realize that I need to become more independent and confident in the choices I make in life, especially given the opportunity to travel around the world. I’m normally someone who listens to what others want to do while putting my wants and needs to the side. While I still think it’s important to consider other people’s wants and needs, I needed to understand that while I want others to be happy and have fun, I needed to be equally as happy and that was not always happening. So, being abroad and meeting new people, and traveling to the places I wanted to go, helped me learn more about myself, feel relieved, and be happy.

In Cork, I’d go out and put myself out there to meet new people—that was how I met some of my closest friends in Ireland. Additionally, Cork offers so much diversity in its assortment of cultures and, as for sports (being a Sport Management student), there was no lack of athletic opportunities—from Gaelic football and hurling to soccer and rugby.

I was fortunate to spend my spring break in England with some family members I haven’t seen in nearly five years. Being with them helped me in understanding how to use the Tube and gain access to parts of London not achievable by just walking. Through this, I was able to experience the wonders of Westminster Abbey, the Tower Bridge, the HMS Belfast, and the Imperial War Museums, to name just a few. My favorite parts of London were attending some of the major sporting events: an Arsenal match at Emirates Stadium, the FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Manchester City, and the Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte boxing match at Wembley Stadium. England helped give me the confidence and integrity that I need to experience certain things in my life while I have the opportunity without being held back by others.

I strongly recommend that anyone interested in studying abroad do it as soon as possible. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, now is your chance to learn more about the world around you—and about yourself.