A Lot to Process – Anders from Bethel

FALL 2011
It is hard to believe that four months of studying in a land that I would have never imagined myself going to is already done and gone.  It seems weird to think that I could have gotten so used to a completely different culture with different norms and traditions.  But, I guess living there for several months will do that.  It was a truly wonderful experience and most of that came from the many different people that I was able to meet and interact with.  It was a time of personal growth that came in large part from being able to view the world differently.
While I met and spoke to many Europeans (as well as other Americans), I felt that I was able to really pull myself out of my own culture as an American and take a critical look at it.  There are definitely things that I appreciated about being in America and being with fellow Americans, but at the same time, it was very easy to see the negative stereotypes that are held by people all over the world.  While some stereotypes are too extreme, you can’t deny that many of them do exist in some manifestation, whether it’s our obnoxiousness, materialism, or over-weightness.  While I was in Europe, I did my best to show that those stereotypes can be founded on some truth, but it is not always the case with every American.
Either way, being away from America caused me to draw even nearer to those things that I had taken advantage of in the past.  Towards the end, I had really begun to look forward to those things that I had gone without for those months.  Dr. Pepper, Chipotle, and many other simple things were apparent, but most of all, I realized that I missed my family and friends.  The friends I made while in Lithuania will never be forgotten, and I was incredibly blessed with the way I was able to connect with them, but there is no replacing family and friends that you have known your whole life.
In the end, it all was a wonderful experience that I will never forget.  There is a lot more even that I need to process, but I am glad to be home and adjusting back to the “American Way”.  It has made me even more thankful for what I do have and the people that are in my life.

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