Hometown: Newton, KS
Where I studied abroad: Prague, Czech Republic
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Favorite Foreign Food: Roasted duck with cabbage and potato dumplings
Favorite city/site visited while abroad: Santorini, Greece, a small island in the Aegean Sea
My next trip is going to be to: I didn’t make it to Italy last spring, so I want travel there very soon. While I’m in Europe I’d love to go back to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest and then revisit Prague!
As I look back at my semester abroad, it’s really hard to condense my experience into a few paragraphs. Living in a completely foreign city for four months and traveling to a total of 12 European countries changed my life in so many ways. However, I didn’t only go to Europe to travel and have fun, I also earned 13 credit hours at Czech Technical University, all of which have been applied toward the completion of my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I was also fortunate to receive study abroad scholarships from K-State which allowed me to have this experience. If I had to narrow it down, I would say the best things about my experience were the places I traveled, the people I encountered, and everything I learned about myself.
As I mentioned earlier, I was able to travel to a total of 12 European countries while I studied abroad. My weekends were busy with these multiple trips and each excursion presented its own unique experience. Some of my favorite experiences include taking in the beautiful scenery on the coast of Northern Ireland, exploring an old Scottish Castle, eating REAL Belgian waffles, basking in Budapest’s hot thermal baths, experiencing a large German beer festival, climbing mountains in the Bavarian Alps, taking a somber tour through the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, traversing a small Greek island on a four-wheeler and visiting all the island’s beaches, ice skating in front of City Hall in Vienna, relaxing on the beach in Barcelona, riding bikes through the Dutch countryside, watching the Eiffel Tower light up during an evening river cruise, and touring an authentic Czech beer factory. I also had plenty of time to explore my home city of Prague. I regularly took strolls through Old Town and across Charles Bridge, became a regular at my favorite Czech restaurants, and enjoy some of the country’s famous pivo (that’s Czech for beer) in beautiful beer gardens all around the city (just to name a few of my favorite activities).
The people I encountered while abroad made just as big of an impact as the places I traveled. I met many new friends from all over the world and I had the opportunity to travel, explore Prague, and work on school projects with these people. Another great part of my experience is the fact that my girlfriend lived in Prague for the semester as well (she attended The University of Economics). She lived half an hour away by subway and she accompanied me on about half of the trips that I mentioned earlier. I also got to see my parents, sister, and Norwegian sister (a former foreign exchange student who stayed with my family while I was in high school) when they visited me during March. It was the first time my parents had traveled to Europe, and I was very excited to host them all for a week. Lastly, while I was in the Netherlands I met up with a Dutch friend from high school, and then I visited my cousin, his wife, and their one year old daughter at their home. This is a long list of people that may not mean much to you, but to me it meant the world. Studying abroad provides the perfect opportunity for making new connections and catching up with old ones, and this was absolutely one of the best parts of my semester.
All of these things that I have written about resulted in a lot of personal development, and I think this was most important aspect of my experience. I learned so much about myself while I lived in Europe and these things will stick with me forever. I learned how I react to stressful and unfamiliar environments, and I’ve become a lot more comfortable with these situations. I am now a professional travel planner and I can navigate public transportation regardless of the language being used. I was able to compare my own background to the backgrounds of the people I met, and I have gained new perspectives on the Issues facing our world. I repeatedly tell people that I learned a lot in that one semester and I never could have learned any of it in a class room. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything and I am thankful every day that K-State, the Study Abroad Office, the College of Engineering, and so many others helped me make it possible. I’m very excited to have been chosen as the study abroad student of the month and I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience! Before I flew back to the U.S. in May, I made a 5 minute video to summarize my semester. If you are interested, I recommend checking it out at https://youtu.be/oErnE3Xfs9E or you can read my blog from the semester at kendallschmidt2015.blogspot.com. Thanks for reading!
Crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland.
Ice skating in front of the Rathaus (City Hall) in Vienna, Austria with K-State students Korby Anderson and LJ Burke.
Taking a selfie on Charles Bridge in Prague with my parents, my sister Lindsay (2015 KSU grad), and Catharina (my Norwegian sister).
Standing at the peak of Schlagstein, a mountain in the Bavarian Alps near the border between Germany and Austria, with a group of friends from Canada, Australia, Mexico, and the United States.
Taking a picture on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini with my girlfriend, Katie McNally.
Showing my K-State Pride in Prague with some of the other students who also studied in Prague during the Spring 2015 semester.
Take a leap of faith and jump right into it. It may seem intimidating at first but you will learn and experience things that will change your life.