Study Abroad In Retrospect: Part 2

Ally Ruch in Paris. Photo credit to Lex Deuffy.

The study abroad office is up and running post-COVID-19, with many students utilizing the domestic and international programs offered every semester. The Point interviewed two students who recently returned from studying abroad. Hear from Ally Ruch this week.

Ruch is a third-year history major and art history minor, who studied abroad over the summer of 2022. She traveled to England, France, and Italy. 

The Point: Was the atmosphere abroad different than it is at PLNU?  

Ally Ruch: Absolutely, but in a beautifully different and unique way. My favorite thing to do abroad was people-watch and absorb the atmosphere around me as much as I possibly could. Everyone is so individualistic and unique, walking to the beat of their own drum. That is something I tried to embody when I was abroad. The people were more distant at first, no one really passes glances when walking down the street. But in a pub or restaurant, the locals would come to life. They were so wonderfully warm, generous, and honest. Everyone I spoke to seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, which meant a lot as a tourist.

TP: How did you get from Place to Place?

AR: Public transportation is such a gamer changer. London, Paris, and Milan had impeccable, cheap, and accessible public transportation systems that ran logically and efficiently. The Tube, especially, in London was extremely easy to navigate and also surprisingly very clean.

TP: How did you feel when coming back to PLNU??

AR: Reverse culture shock is real. I was gone for such a short time that I didn’t want to leave. I had just made these incredible friends and seen so much of the world, I didn’t want to stop. When I got back, I fell into a bit of a slump. While I was grateful for the experience and happy to see my friends and family back home, studying abroad gave me a glimpse of what life could look like for me. In London, I somehow felt like I belonged. I know one day I will travel back to some of the cities I visited because there is an abundance of places I missed, but for now, I must remain thankful that I was able to study abroad and know that one day I’ll be back.

TP: Did you feel overwhelmed at all?

AR: Overwhelmed is an understatement. My program was fast-paced in the largest sense of the term. We did four countries (if you count the Vatican) and eight cities in three weeks, all while taking a three-unit course. The time we got free from class or field trips, we spent exploring our destinations further. Some nights it was hard for me to admit to myself that I just couldn’t see everything I wanted to and that that was alright. It was a challenge to give myself the mental and physical rest I needed because I felt as though I needed to take every opportunity I could to explore.

TP: If you had a choice, would you go and live abroad?

AR: I am currently in the process of looking at grad schools abroad. I envision myself one day living abroad, most likely somewhere in the UK. As I mentioned earlier, it already began to feel like home in the five days that I was there.

TP: What was your favorite part about studying abroad?

AR: My favorite thing about studying abroad was the people I was with and the museums. Studying abroad is such a unique experience and I was lucky enough to do it with people I love and am still in contact with. We will forever have that shared experience that will continue to hold us together as a group. And obviously, the museums. As an aspiring art historian, it was truly an out-of-body experience to get to stand so close to works I had only seen in textbooks or on slides in a classroom.

If you are wanting to learn more about other cultures and countries, studying abroad is probably one of your best options to take. You may feel sad when you come back or even feel happy, but you will probably feel grateful that you got the opportunity to study abroad. The study abroad office has many different countries you can travel to and they will guide you in every step. If you have any questions regarding studying abroad you could contact Chris Corbin and Brian Becker in the study abroad department.  

For more information on the Study Abroad office, visit www.pointloma.edu