Jamie Weisman — Prague, Czech Republic:
Why did you decide to study abroad?
Growing up I always had a passion for learning about different cultures and countries that made me always dream about one day traveling the world. Our mother always instilled in us to go outside of our comfort zone and travel before we ever settle down in life. So when my sister studied abroad in Prague her junior year of college I knew immediately that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I knew as soon as my junior year rolled around it was my turn to follow my dreams and study abroad and luckily USAC made that possible.
Why did you choose Prague to study abroad? (Courtney – Additionally, what made you decide to move to Prague?)
I was lucky enough to visit Courtney twice while she was in Prague. Once while she was studying abroad and the other time when she officially moved there. Prague was always at the top of my list but I didn’t want people to think I was doing everything she had done. I knew I wanted somewhere in Europe but had a hard decision finding the perfect place that had everything I needed and wanted. In the end Prague was the most affordable, and practical for my study abroad adventure. It also gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my sister and all the wonderful people she had met throughout her time there. I was then able to create new memories with the wonderful people within my own program.
What impact did study abroad have on you? Your life? The way you saw yourself? How you changed?
This might sound cliché but in all honestly studying abroad has changed my life in such a positive way. It has given me the opportunity to meet some of the greatest people, both fellow study abroad students and locals. It has opened my eyes to a world outside of everything I have ever known. It taught me to go outside of my comfort zone and explore unfamiliar territories. It has helped me re-examine my priories and everything I want out of life because it gave me a different outlook. I have learned that less is more; everyone has a different story to share, and never underestimate the power of paper maps. I learned that dryers are a luxury, not everyone will agree with your views, and not to be afraid to ask for help. I learned that you don’t need cellphone service to communicate with people, and most importantly I learned that my time abroad was the greatest gift I could have every asked for. It has made me realize my love and passion for traveling has only just begun.
What is your most memorable study abroad moment / story?
I have had 10 months to make some of the greatest memories many people only dream about. My favorite study abroad moments were the pinch me ones that I never imagined would happen to me. Being able to visit monuments and places that I have grown up learning about from textbooks I think were my favorite. Sitting under the sparkling Eiffel tower with live music playing in the background and my friends right by my side, exploring the Vatican museum and the Coliseum while trying to imagine the things that took place there. Walking on the Charles Bridge late at night with no one else around, relaxing in Park Güell in Spain, leaving Denmark only to have lunch in Sweden. Sitting on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, watching the changing of the guards outside of Buckingham palace, and laying on the rolling green hills in Ireland. These are just a few moments that I probably would never had experienced if it weren’t for studying abroad and are the ones I will cherish forever.
What advice would you tell someone who is thinking about studying abroad?
Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity that I would whole heartily recommend to anyone. This is an opportunity to travel to places you have always dreamed about while still working towards your degree. If it wasn’t for USAC and this amazing program I don’t think I would have ever had the chance to travel to the 23 countries at the age of 21. You get to make some of the greatest friends you can ever find and share unimaginable memories with them. The teachers and advisors were always there for us and I am happy to call them great friends now. I know the thought of leaving behind your friends, family, and everything you are accustomed to can sound frightening but studying abroad is the greatest thing that can happen to you and one incredible opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Most importantly it gave my sister and I the chance to bond in a way we never expected while creating life long memories that we will have with us for the rest of our lives. Here’s to hoping this is only the beginning of our international adventures!