View of the beach in Sydney
A beach day in Sydney

Last semester was the first time in two years that I spent the fall months away from Connecticut College. I was anxious to embark on a new adventure but nonetheless ecstatic to explore a new country and schooling system at the University of Sydney. My semester was atypical from the start—I left for my semester abroad on July 19 and returned November 18. A typical fall semester at Conn begins in late August and ends in the third week of December. When I returned from Australia, my peers back at Conn were still engaged in their studies. I had some time to reflect and anticipate what was ahead of me. It was not easy to return from studying abroad. Life had gone on and people expected me to be the same, but I wasn't. My transition period from Conn to the University of Sydney exemplified and elucidated the ways I changed and the things I missed.

When I returned to campus, I was overjoyed to be reacquainted with even the small things, including the dining halls. I have an unlimited meal plan again and eat much more healthily and treat myself to Soup and Bread, a themed lunch at Jane Addams Dining Hall every Tuesday and Thursday. The return to tradition was a welcome change from abroad, where I either cooked meals, ordered UberEats or ate at one of the many small shops on campus. My new appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of Conn didn’t end with dining options. It was refreshing to be able to walk anywhere on campus in a relatively short amount of time again, compared to my experience in Sydney, where I lived at least 10 minutes from my campus itself. Living on campus is awesome—and I think having the entire student body living on campus at Conn strengthens the community and fosters closer friendships.

Speaking of friends, this was probably the best part about coming back to Conn. Finally, I am back with my people, the ones who know most about me and who I have grown with since my first days as a Camel. I connected with some great people abroad and I miss them dearly. But there is something to be said about friends you have had since the first days of a new chapter in life. I know my Conn friends are forever. As we continue through our junior year, I am excited to follow everyone’s progress on securing internships and to see their development into young adults. Perhaps what I missed most about Conn was a sense of familiarity and the support of friends.

Going abroad was a learning opportunity academically and personally. There were times that I was not necessarily homesick but reminiscent of the person I was when I entered college as a first-year, care-free, naive and free-spirited student. I have grown in myriad ways and studying abroad made me even more keen to explore, comfortable with the unknown and willing to break boundaries. I am grateful that Conn encourages study abroad from day one because the benefits far outweigh the challenges. The irony about the challenges is that they reap the most rewards.


Images below: friends from both Conn and abroad

Mark poses for a photo with a group of friends

Mark poses for a photo with a friend