Diversions

Travel is as Travel Does

A Broad Goes Abroad: Final Musings from the British Isles

By: Maddie DePree, Columnist

I am going to miss Europe. When I leave and come back to Furman, I will truly be bummed. Not because I don’t miss campus and my friends, because I do—immensely. But the thought of leaving behind all the places I’ve come to know and love is tough.  

Our professors sat us down the other day and told us a hard truth—that the comedown from these kinds of trips is usually huge. Most students experience a kind of depression, and some have to seek counseling for it. As someone who already uses the on-campus counseling services, this talk was a bit of a blow. Did this mean that my re-immersion would suck even more than everyone else’s? This was a nail-biting prospect, and I left class feeling apprehensive.

Most of the group is preparing to fly home right now. I, on the other hand, am traveling the continent with friends for another three weeks, so I get to delay my re-assimilation by a few more weeks. My friends and I are leaving pretty soon for Florence, Italy. Right now, we are in Nice, France, and it is absolutely mind-blowing. Nice could not be more different from London—it is sunny, small, laid back, and (since it’s off-season) nearly empty. The views are comically beautiful I feel like I am walking through a landscape painting—and to top it all off, the food is fantastic. Where else could you find an appetizer of grilled gnocchi in a rich chestnut cream sauce? (Well, probably in Florence. Stay tuned. If I find that dish again, I am ordering ten.)

Seriously, though, my travels this semester have been dreamlike. I never thought I would be able to do so many wonderful things in such a short amount of time. In the tiny sliver of time spent here, I have seen 29 theater productions (two featuring big-time Harry Potter actors, and one featuring Brian Cranston, i.e. Walter White); I have tried <<polpette du mare>> and beans on toast; I have hung out with President Davis during her visit to London; I have been to fifteen different cities and six different countries. If this sounds fancy and amazing and over-the-top, well, it is—Furman’s Study Away programs are no joke, and if you ever have the chance to go on one, I highly suggest you take it. I think my jaw will still be hanging open 10 years after this program ends.

I still have weeks to go before I fly back to the States, so I have tried to ignore the whole “going home” endeavor. Studying away has been hard work, but it has also provided a much-needed break: a break from my hometown, a break from dorm life, a break from people. When I return, all of those things will return in full force. There will be no bougie gelato store to retreat to, no free art museums and no 13th-century ruins. My upper-middle-class-white-kid adventure will soon come to an end, and honestly, I cannot say I am excited about that. Who would be? I would much rather extend my exploring than face some of the things I left behind in the States.

I would be wasting the experience, though, if I came home in a slump. International travel should be, above all else, inspiring and invigorating; to return to Atlanta as a poutier version of myself would be ridiculous. Yes, I will miss Europe, but I know I will be back,probably sooner rather than later. I can finally be that obnoxious guy and say, “yes, travel is actually life-changing.”  

If anything, I will be examining home in a new light. After all, Europeans are awestruck by the U.S. in the same way that I am awestruck by Europe. The joys of travel are largely attributed to novelty, after all. If I can manufacture that same sense of wonder when I return home, I think I will be just fine.

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The A broad goes Abroad series comes to an end as Maddie travels though Italy and sums up her semester adventures. In the photo, Maddie lays defeated on a pebbly beach, enjoys french pastries with a friend and snaps a shot of a sunny day in Europe. Photos courtesy of Maddie DePree.

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