Ngan Tran / Gavel Media

Eagles Abroad Describe the Ups and Downs of Studying Overseas

Many Eagles have been far from the nest these past few months, studying abroad in various countries around the world. During this time, they have been able to learn more about themselves and the great world we live in.

Jenna Santos, ‘21, who has lived in Boston her whole life, explained how she has enjoyed the many opportunities of studying abroad in New Zealand, including hiking, skiing, and camping outdoors. Dan Cizmarik, MCAS ’21, also studying abroad in New Zealand for this semester, said how exploring the landscapes of the country has been an exciting part of his time there so far. 

“It has been phenomenal to get outside and experience some of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ as well as the outdoor culture that is so prominent here,” Santos said. 

A love for new outdoor opportunities was shared by Kate Canavan, MCAS '21, who said, “I love biking everywhere I go! It's a great way to see the beautiful city and get some exercise.”

Canavan has also welcomed the chance to live in a new environment with totally new people while abroad in Amsterdam. “Studying at the University of Amsterdam is interesting because there is not one campus,” Canavan said, “I really like how students live all over the city and there is a lack of a campus ‘bubble.’”

Hal Knowlton, MCAS ’21, similarly described how, while at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, he has enjoyed learning about the Afrikaner and AmaXhosa cultures.

Ah, the good old 'BC bubble.' Speaking of, many students also shared what they miss most about Boston College.

“I miss my friends at BC who have truly become family. When I’ve summited a mountain and am looking out at a breath-taking view, all I want is to be able to share what I’ve seen with the people I love most.” Santos said.

Canavan also said, “Out of my closest friend group, I am the only one abroad in the fall, so I definitely miss my friends who are at BC this semester!”

Knowlton mentioned how the pace of abroad is different from what he is used to at BC.

“I miss how hectic BC is; I like being busy and BC is very much that. On the other hand, it is kind of nice to have more free time, so it’s a mixed bag,” he said.

Santos also said, “I can confidently say I do not miss late nights [studying] on O’Neill Fifth floor or in Babst.” Thus, the change in academic pace has been a welcome and needed one. 

Cizmarik acknowledged how he has enjoyed exploring places that he wouldn’t have been able to back homeand how he finally has the time to do so without the constant inundation of classes and assignments.

Despite moments of longing for BC, students studying abroad have been able to find bits of BC in the places they have traveled to. Santos said how the University of Otago has a beautiful clocktower that rests on a grassy quad with the Leith River running through it. It reminds her a little of Gasson due to the similar gothic feel and the viewgiving the Gassongram some competition?

On a more serious note, living abroad in a foreign country can sometimes be extremely difficult and frustrating, as Canavan learned when her wallet was stolen out of her hands her first morning in Amsterdam. Her bike was stolen a week later. Talk about a warm welcome.

“Handling curveballs like that while trying to adjust to a new city was definitely difficult,” Canavan said.

The adjustment can definitely be challenging, especially when handling keeping in touch with family and friends in a whole different time zone.

Santos spoke to how “while abroad is a phenomenal experience and truly a time for self-reflection and new-found independence, the reality of homesickness hits hard at times.”

Knowlton described how having no air conditioning or heat and temperamental electricity has been an interesting adjustment as well, but one that he has been working through.

Challenges and all, the experience of living abroad for a semester is a unique and special one, as these students can attest to. Having a break from the staccato rhythm of life at BC can serve as a much-needed time for reflection and growth outside of the classroom. While we miss all those studying abroad this semester, we are excited for them and encourage them to keep on setting the world aflame.

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