I heard someone say the first week is the hardest,” my best friend at Stanford told me a couple days before I was supposed to leave. “Why?” I asked. “I don’t know, that’s just what I heard,” she told me. I brushed off the warning with a mere shrug. I should have heeded the warning but little could have been done to prepare myself. Accepted into the program late, I had less than 12 days, when others had months, to make a decision whether or not to go. To say the least, it was the hardest decision I’ve made to date. I took a lot of advice from people who had previously been abroad who spouted the benefits of going out of the country and the wonderful time they had but failed to mention the reality of the first week. If you had asked me last week how I had felt, I would have said I regretted my decision. Now, after a weekend in the wonderful port city of Valparaiso, I love the life in Chile.
But aside from a fear of flying and airline regulations, the one emotion I felt more than any other was, believe it or not, pressure. I realized that rarely ever had I encountered a person who did not say that their abroad experience was the most amazing time of their life, and I remember thinking, What if I don’t have a great time? What if I come back thinking my past three months abroad were just so-so?
This is the last edition of “This Column Is Ironic” you’ll read that was written on the Farm. Scary, isn’t it? Sadly, my ever-prolific course load of political science papers precludes me from barraging you with wit during our Dead Week issue. (I promise you, political science actually requires me to do some work.) When The Daily resumes in spring quarter, I won’t be here. Instead, I’ll be living it up at home in Scranton, Pennsylvania for a few weeks until I begin my quarter abroad. That’s right, guys: I’m going to Oxford, and you’re coming with me.
I had been eager to return to campus, and my fall quarter had been dotted with wistful visions of sun and palm trees even as I enjoyed traipsing across Europe. But once I got my first glimpse of Campus Drive in months, unsettling feelings of disjunction crept in.
While Stanford shares this rising enrollment trend with many other colleges, the popularity of less traditional languages, such as Chinese and Arabic, makes Stanford distinct from its peers.
I spent three months in Spain, and let me tell you, I learned a lot. I mastered enough Spanish to justify the “working fluency” currently listed under the “Skills” section on my resume. I learned enough about olive oil and Spanish cuisine to make tortilla de patata. And I learned probably more than I ever…