The Charger Blog

Rising Junior Says Studying in Europe Enhanced Her Confidence

Angela Boland ’21, a national security and political science double major, had little travel experience when she left to study in Europe. After a month overseas, she returned with a passion for exploration and a sense of adventure.

July 16, 2019

By Angela Boland ’21

Image of Angela Boland ’21
Angela Boland ’21 (right) in Switzerland.

Growing up, I did not do much traveling. When I left for Europe earlier this summer, I had not been on a plane since I was a sophomore in high school. I had never even owned a suitcase of my own! I had also never gone without seeing my family for more than two or three weeks, nor had I ever been more than 100 miles away from them.

Everyone talks about the culture shock that comes with going to a different place, meeting different people, and experiencing different things. In the short time between saying goodbye to my family at the airport and stepping onto the plane, I was already in shock. With the exception of two brief stops while on a cruise in the Caribbean, I had never set foot outside of the mainland United States. Beyond what YouTube, Google, and friends could offer, I had no idea what to expect as I began my study abroad adventure.

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Angela Boland ’21 (left, front) visited Paris with her classmates and Professor Chris Haynes (left).

From the moment we landed in Paris to the moment we boarded the plane to return home, I felt like a child in a candy store, in awe of all of the bright colors, wondrous smells and tastes, and mysterious unknowns. While spending time in Paris, Geneva, Brussels, or Amsterdam, I never ran out of interesting things to see, amazing foods to try, or mind- blowing places to explore. The more comfortable I got in Europe, the more like home it began to feel, like I had lived there forever.

"To everyone in my shoes, wanting to travel but afraid to give it a try, there is a whole world of amazing things and possibilities awaiting you."By Angela Boland ’21

From the simplest things, like learning to order from the bakery in French or asking locals in Brussels and Amsterdam for recommendations, I found that a part of the globe that had once seemed like a dream to me quickly became a part of my comfort zone. I can now say that studying abroad has given me the most amazing gifts that I did not realize I needed: a more adventurous side, an unquenchable thirst to explore and learn, and self-confidence that I definitely lacked.

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Angela Boland ’21 (center) studied in France this summer.

Looking back, I realize how easy it was for the unknown to seem scary when familiarity was everywhere. Studying abroad is the most amazing opportunity to branch out and grow up, regardless of how experienced you may think you are with the world around you and the responsibilities that await you outside of college.

Visiting France, Switzerland, and Belgium has been one of the most beneficial experiences of my life. To everyone in my shoes, wanting to travel but afraid to give it a try, there is a whole world of amazing things and possibilities awaiting you. Just let courage guide you.