Discomfort Zone

Story By: Kaitlin Homan

Kaitlin Homan
I remember the thrill like it was yesterday. A collection of every synonym for ‘amazing’ still isn’t enough. Studying abroad will forever be indescribable. 

Growing up, I knew there was always something inside of me dying to see more of the world, yearning to get out there and experience something fresh, different and invigorating. Two years ago I made the decision, an easy decision, to study abroad in Germany for the spring semester of my sophomore year. 

That easy decision quickly became one of the best decisions I have made.

I wanted to immerse myself in a culture, town and university that I had never laid eyes on before. Somewhere that would allow me to find a path on my own, and a place that removed me from my comfort zone. I can’t thank enough the little city of Reutlingen (in southern Germany) for doing just that for me.

I arrived the first day of February – close to midnight, trying to find my way to this place I’d soon be calling home in the pouring rain. And it was scary, but wonderful. 

I knew this was all part of ‘finding my way.’ I had to trust in others and believe in myself.

For five months, I encountered new faces every single day, I laughed with strangers who became lifelong friends, I attended school at a German university, I ate food I never knew existed, I drank some of the best beer in the world, I befriended locals who taught me their culture, I traveled to seven breathtaking countries, I walked, flew, or got on a bus or train to get around, I lived every moment of it with open arms, and it’s made me who I am today.

I feel bigger than my fears. I feel thankful for the memories, and the love the world gave me when I was all alone.

My advice to a college student who’s looking for a getaway, or looking for something fresh, different and invigorating: study abroad. It’s doable and it’s something that makes you a little richer.

Now I know why people say that “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

City Center in Reutlingen, Germany 

The quality of life is made richer with the experience of travel – sightseeing, driving, flying, encountering and navigating.  Our memories become rich in sounds, sights and smells.

Time flies. And if it weren’t for endless applications, emails and planning, I wouldn’t have this understanding of the world. I wouldn’t trade this memory for anything.

I am humbled to call California my permanent home, but I am also humbled to have been able to call Reutlingen my temporary home.

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