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Returning Home from a New Home

by Ally Vanchena Monday, August 11, 2014

With my semester abroad at Maastricht finished, I have gained invaluable insight on many things. In regards to education, I have decided that the group based learning works great for theoretical classes like my strategy, organizational behavior, and ethics course. Brainstorming in groups for unanswerable questions works wonderfully in coming up with new, unique ideas. For mathematics-type classes, I believe the traditional way of teaching works better. For example, in my internal controls class, it was hard to learn and prepare for the exam when the student leading the group was just as lost as I was and the tutor did not step in with the correct answers. Now it’s time to get back to that teacher-student dynamic at UW-Madison.

Immediately after finishing courses at Maastricht, a couple friends and I embarked on a two month backpacking journey throughout Europe. Through visiting 34 cities in 20 countries, living out of backpacks, moving to new hostels almost daily and occasionally suffering through scary night trains, I was ready to return to a routine day to day life.

Before returning back home to the United States, I went back to Maastricht for a couple days. There I was able to meet up with a few old friends, go back to some of my favorite food stops and bars, and pass some time just walking and biking around the city. In these few days, I realized that Maastricht had become a home for me, and I actually wanted to stay there instead of coming back to the United States so soon!

Coming back to the United States, I immediately noticed countless differences from Europe. For the first time in over 6 months, I can understand everyone flawlessly, I drive everywhere instead of biking or walking, I can shop longer throughout the day at stores filled with many more options, I can get free water  at restaurants, and I have internet anytime I want or need it on my phone. There are too many changes to list, but for some I am really thankful to be back in the United States, such as stores being open later, free water, and being able to understand everyone. On the other hand, I really miss biking and walking everywhere in Europe, the healthier and, in my opinion, tastier food, the beautiful historical cities and towns, and, although there were often language barriers, I do love listening to foreign accents.

The next step for me in my reintegration into American culture is returning to UW-Madison. I really miss my fellow badgers and our University, so I look forward to returning!

Biking through Maastricht