Living for a semester in Norway has really forced me out of my comfort zone. And I’m not talking about living somewhere new where I don’t speak the language, I mean in terms of forming relationships with others. It’s true that living in a foreign land where I don’t speak the language has given me many life lessons and forced me to grow up a little and recognize that I ultimately have to take care of myself, but the friendships that I’ve formed here are really what have broadened my perspective on life.
The few people that I’ve grown the closest to are really an interesting and diverse group of people. I really don’t share much in common with them at all besides the fact that we are living in Norway. They don’t play video games and they haven’t ever watched “Star Wars” (nor do they ever want to!) This, embarrassingly enough, came as a total shock to me. I have always gravitated towards people who are, shall we say, “nerdy” and partake in similar hobbies. One friend is a moderate conservative who lives on a cattle ranch in a very small town in South Dakota while the other is a feminist liberal living in the largest city in Wisconsin. And then there’s me, sitting somewhat in the middle. So how does this amalgam of culture and beliefs pan out in our friendship? Very well, actually. We have all learned so much from each other and I have had my eyes opened in many ways. By having such a diverse group of friends, we all push each other to become truly aware of who we are as individuals. While living in and learning about a completely different culture is the main intent behind studying abroad, I can’t deny that it also opens up so many opportunities to learn about oneself outside of the comfort and routine of familiar grounds. This, ultimately, has been my greatest lesson while abroad.