Abroad Profile: Filling the empty spaces

Jordan Javelet

Contributing Editor

I have never been particularly good with change. Up until now, the biggest change I had ever experienced was moving from my home in Denver to attend Goucher, and let me assure you—the transition was terrifying to me. Suddenly, I was on the other side of the country with no friends, no familiar spaces or comfort zones, no support other than what my parents could offer me over the phone. I spent nearly two weeks going through the motions of life and falling into bed at night, completely disheartened by my paralyzing fear of change.

But after two weeks, I began opening up. I made new friends. I became familiar with Goucher’s campus. I formed a support group of faculty members and fellow students. I no longer felt empty, and I was proud of my accomplishment. I actually grew to like the change from my hometown.

It was then that I realized that change was not really the thing that scared me: I was afraid of the transition that must take place for change to occur. I picture it like coming to the end of the chapter in the book and then turning the page to start the next chapter—the end of one chapter might be sad, but there is hope when the new chapter begins. The scary part is the blank space in between the last line of one chapter and the first line of the next, where all the doubt and uncertainty waits to seize you. What if you turn the page and hate follows? What if it’s nothing like you anticipated or imagined it would be?

All change comes with this empty space between what has been and what will be. It is the transition period between starting a new job, the settling in when you move to a new house. It is the tenuous limbo between here and there, the uncertain helplessness between now and then.

The blank space in my journey abroad has not been easy. I arrived in England a day before my program started, which meant I had one night completely alone in a hotel room across the world from anything I knew. I was trapped in the white space between chapters, waiting for the page to turn.

I spent the first two days in London craving some sort of permanence in my life. I was living out of two suitcases in a hotel room, I had no friends, and I certainly didn’t feel anything familiar. Looking around London was difficult because it felt almost like New York City, but there was this strange foreignness—something I couldn’t even fully describe—that kept me from feeling at home. I was scared that the blank space would never end, that I would never turn the page, never start my next chapter.

But then I remembered something: when I went to Goucher, I was unhappy until I took the initiative to make friends and familiarize myself with Goucher’s campus and the surrounding area. So on my third night in London, I decided to forego staying in the cocoon of my hotel room watching House of Cards on Netflix and, instead, venture out with my orientation group at ten o’clock at night in Central London. As we walked through the city, we began a lively discussion about free will and morality, quoting reputable sources, excitedly interjecting our insights, and I began to feel comfortable again. My knowledge became my comfort zone, confirming that I have something valuable to share, and suddenly I felt connected to ten new friends. And just like that, the blank space finally ended.

Goucher Eats: Senior eats finale

Kathryn Walker
Co-Features Editor

This is my belated thank you letter, the one that extends hundreds of miles and

Kathryn Walker ‘14 and her brothers outside Stimson Hall after moving in Freshman year (Photo: Courtesy of Kathryn Walker)

Kathryn Walker ‘14 and her brothers outside Stimson Hall after moving in Freshman year (Photo: Courtesy of Kathryn Walker)

oceans wide, the one that I should have written to so many people for so many things, the one that never came in the mail or still lies unwritten on my desk.  For the things big and small, heroic or ordinary, important or inconsequential.  For the people, moments, and places that have swept me off my feet and shaken my small corner of the world.  As the Dictionary of Obsolete Sorrows so aptly describes, a memory, a lifetime, “are not just the moments, not the grand gestures or the catered ceremonies, not the poised person smiling in photos, they’re the invisible things. The minutes, the cheap raw material of ordinary time.”
Four years ago, my family – both parents and all three brothers in tow – dropped me off at Goucher in the sweltering Baltimore heat for my first cross-country pre-season, my first real Goucher memory.  After four hours of unpacking, sweating, and bickering, I waved them off with a factitiously haughty, “I’ll see you at Thanksgiving – maybe.”  Five minutes later, I was lying on my bed staring at the cracks in the ceiling and wishing with all my heart that my family would hear my silent thoughts and come back for me and take me home.  I came to the conclusion that if this was what college would be like – silent, lonely, sweaty – then these next four years were going to suck.
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Letters from Berlin: Living abroad

Ruby Tucker
Staff Writer

It is 10:23 p.m. and I am walking the streets of Berlin. I’m on my way to Clash, one of my favorite bars, where the beer is cheap, the guys are cute, and my friends are waiting. I think to myself, “Ah, this is my life. Here I am, meeting my friends at one of my favorite bars, walking the streets knowing exactly where I am going, passing one of my friend’s apartments on the way.” In this moment, I am in pure bliss: living a life that feels right, a life that I love. Suddenly a sense of anxious pain runs through my whole body. There are only two weeks left of my semester in Berlin. I find it difficult to accept and even more difficult to believe. I try to live in the moment but how can I when my time here is almost up? One week until papers are due, two weeks until my family comes to visit, and four weeks until I return to the United States. These blocks and chunks of allotted time run through my head and are simply impossible to erase. It pains me to write this.
You might think I am being dramatic. If I were reading this, I would think so, but to me, Berlin is the one place where I have made a life for myself, a true life. My parents chose California, my birthplace. Goucher was chosen for me by fate. I chose Berlin for myself. I decided to live here for a year, have my own apartment, make my own friends, and live my own life. I didn’t just study abroad, I lived abroad, and as much as I want to see my friends and resume my life at Goucher, the feeling is so bittersweet. I think it is so hard when you have to uproot your life just when you feel as if you are finally home. A feeling of security is something I don’t find often as a bi-costal college student. The constant trek home to California every break is draining. Not having a solid place for three years has made saying goodbye to Berlin even harder. However, I know I am so lucky to have experienced what I have, and I am curious to see how I have changed as a person and how I now fit into the Goucher community. I am excited to spend my summer on campus, creating a new home for myself, and re-entering such a warm and loving community that I feel so lucky to be a part of.

Discovering the meaning of the study abroad experience

Zoe Malkin
Staff Writer.

How to begin an article encapsulating my time thus far in Denmark: Did I want to give little factoids about Copenhagen and its people? For example, how Danes leave their children in strollers outside of grocery stores and cafés because the city is so safe. There has never been a kidnapping in Denmark! Or, that all public libraries are closed on Sundays, a college student’s prime day for work. But I thought that I wanted to share much more than that. And so here is my attempt to encapsulate this experience.
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First impressions: Adjusting to the ‘nutty’ Danes

Eli Kaufman
Contributor

Nutty Danishes!  Sounds yummy right?  Well, now that I have grabbed your attention, I’m not talking about the delicious pastry that can be found in all of Copenhagen (and I mean ALL OVER Copenhagen).  I am talking about Danish people.

Kaufman ‘15 and Malkin ‘15 abroad in Copenhagen (Photo courtesy of Zoe Malkin)

Kaufman ‘15 and Malkin ‘15 abroad in Copenhagen (Photo courtesy of Zoe Malkin)

During orientation we were told about nutty danishes.  The Danish people, as I have come to realize in my short time here, are a bit nutty. I don’t mean that in a negative sense at all. When you eat a nut, you must first crack the shell and after you get past the hard, crunchy exterior, you get to the good part of the food, the part that is tasty and the part that satisfies your hunger needs.  You can’t do much with the shell, and you come to terms that you must do the necessary work to get to the good part in the center.
When you walk down a street in Copenhagen, you will notice people walking and keeping to themselves.  They do not make an effort to smile or look at you.  The busses that I take for a 20-minute commute to class are completely silent, except for the Americans talking amongst themselves.
First impressions are not everything.  We have always heard this expression, but we often overlook it and find ourselves making snap judgments about the people we encounter.  If I had made snap judgments about Danish people in my first week in Copenhagen, I would have believed that everyone was quiet, anti-social, and depressed (lack of sunlight, grey skies and wearing black could do that to you).
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A solo adventure through Iceland and across ice

Ruby Tucker
Staff Writer

The wind slapped my face as my shivering body stood surrounded by a glacier. I was no longer watching a movie in

Ruby Tucker in the mountains of Iceland staying cool (Photo: Ruby Tucker)

Ruby Tucker in the mountains of Iceland staying cool (Photo: Ruby Tucker)

some artic setting; I was in one. Between snorkeling in the Pingvellir lake, hiking in an icy cave, watching natural geysers erupt in front of my very eyes, seeing the Golden Circle, swimming in the Blue Lagoon, and admiring all of the sunrises and sunsets, I spent a week of my life alone, in Iceland.
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Expecting the unexpected while studying abroad in Berlin

Ruby Tucker
Contributor

I never expected to find myself riding a camel in the middle of a Saharan sunset,

Ruby Tucker at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany (Photo: Ruby Tucker)

Ruby Tucker at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany (Photo: Ruby Tucker)

spending a night camping in the Moroccan desert, meeting a guy traveling the world only on his bicycle, or sleeping on the cold London airport floor during a ten hour layover when I signed up to study abroad in Berlin. However, that is what the study abroad experience is. Expect the unexpected.
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