When first arriving to my exchange in Zurich, Switzerland everything was new, and I didn’t know anyone, nor did I have any real knowledge of the city and culture I had just stepped into. My first full day after arriving I remember going grocery shopping and feeling incredibly overwhelmed. Many of the products weren’t very familiar, and were often very different than we have here. On top of that, none of the labels and descriptions were in English which made it all the more confusing to navigate such a simple task as buying a few groceries. About five minutes in I was very overwhelmed so I just grabbed some bread, peanut butter, and jelly which I’m pretty sure got me through my first full week before I built up enough confidence to go back. Throughout the semester the small things started to get easier and easier until even the bigger things started to seem do-able. I started to explore the city and talk to my classmates. One of my favorite things to do the whole semester was to sit on the benches overlooking the city or the docks down on the river and study, read, or eat with friends. I began learning to navigate basic conversations in German and gain confidence in doing things that put me outside of my comfort zone in order to force myself to learn more how to do things independently of others. By the time the semester ended I had gained enough confidence through planning and going places on the weekends that I decided to stay for the summer and solo travel through south-eastern Europe, spending about two and a half months going everywhere and doing everything on my own–which is quite a big change from my first day in that grocery store!

A view from my favorite bench in the city!