While some have been quietly cursing the chilly weather as it comes and goes in early March, I’ve been recalling the cold, a more bitter cold, as part of a lifelong memory my mind has been returning too frequently in recent weeks.
Allow me to be a bit nostalgic with this post…
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I was a year ago. At this time last year, I was studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. This was, hands down, one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life and worth recalling. “Not all who wander are lost” is a Tolkien quote and one of my favorites.
Often feeling a bit buried this semester in work, classes, and post-graduate prep, I’ve longed for those days of strolling down an unfamiliar street, with no real destination in mind, but completely absorbed in everything new around me.
I made a point to blog many of these experiences to revisit in later years when maybe the cold weather won’t be enough to bring Russia to the forefront of my mind.
You can check it out at http://www.petersburgblog.wordpress.com
My few videos and photos can only offer hints of something you really need to experience firsthand.
I have to stop and ponder how it is that a whole year has passed between now and then. That experience has seemed such a part me that it’s hard for me to think of it is as a time in my life that’s now a year old. Studying abroad really has given me that greater appreciation and understanding of a world outside my own that I think you can’t duplicate in a two-week Euro-trip.
I think of the most significant reasons I have been dwelling on that semester in Russia is because as I prepare to graduate in May, I more frequently recall the most memorable experiences I’ve enjoyed while at Mason and my semester abroad is most certainly near the top of the list. Despite the fact that during my semester abroad I was thousands of miles, an ocean, and a couple continents away from the university, I definitely consider it among my many great “Mason experiences.” It was an opportunity created for me at Mason and just one of many ways the university has helped to stretch and shape myself during my four years as an undergraduate.
It’s hard for me to compare it to other universities since I’ve only attended one, but Mason’s Center for Global Education (CGE) was huge in helping me to identify the right study abroad program and assisting me in applying and preparing for the semester away.
The first time I visited the office I knew I wanted to go abroad somewhere–it was a goal I had set for myself before entering Mason my freshman year–but Mason’s CGE made it possible for me to get to the destination I wanted to go. After studying the Russian language for three semesters, St. Petersburg was my ideal global locale and I was able to get there. I’d definitely encourage any prospective Masonite to make a semester abroad a priority or at least schedule a visit with the CGE office and be open to hearing about what a program might offer you. I can guarantee you won’t regret it if you do.