Studying abroad in a foreign country, with a different culture gives you a perspective on life that can be received no other way than by studying abroad. In a sense, studying abroad is like being born again, with the exception of having eighteen plus years of living in the United States under your belt. Once the umbilical cord is cut, you’re on your own. You notice that people speak differently and look differently. In some cases, you have to cook your own dinner AND go out and buy your own food. Scary, I know. But, living overseas gives you the ability to pause, and think about the difference between your life now and the way it was before. When I first put my foot on foreign soil, I couldn’t help but compare the United States and the current country I was living in. Ultimately, you learn that comparing schools for the next X plus months is pointless, unless of course, you want to flounder. I don’t like floundering. BUT, one thing that has really stuck in my mind is how different St. Mary’s is from the current university I am attending.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland is actually a cult.
Yes, you read that right. Saint Mary’s College of Maryland is actually a cult. When the word “cult” is googled the definition that describes St. Mary’s is: “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular thing,” and “a person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.” In other words, St. Mary’s College of Maryland is a cult amongst its members. Here’s why:
- According to The Princeton Review, St. Mary’s ranks fifth in the nation for “happiest students”.
- How many articles/pieces of SMCM spirit wear do you own?
- How many times have you seen “SMCM” or “SMCM” written on the rocks with a heart in the river? On the river bank?
- Those last two weeks of summer where the only thing you can think of is, “OMG why am I not at the river right now?”
- Graduating. Who actually wants to graduate from St. Mary’s?
As someone who is not from a cult, Amy Schumer knows what the college experience should entail. Her autobiography, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, which climbed to the top of The New York Times Best Seller List when it was first published, says something along the lines of: people shouldn’t have too much fun in college. Hmmm.
St. Mary’s students are super happy, they don’t want to graduate, and are full of school pride. It’s a cult. And, as this cult member knows, you can’t leave a cult. Because I am studying abroad and had the opportunity of getting away from St. Mary’s, I’ve had the opportunity to realize I was in this cult too deep. Before I came to the university I currently attend, I couldn’t imagine going to a big school with large lecture halls with hundreds of people, but here I am. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else without having my closest friends’ right next to me, but here I am. Cooking and washing my own dishes was completely out of the question, but here I am, writing this essay after eating and preparing my own meal, all by me, myself, and I. I understand that nothing lasts forever, or at least that’s what Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” told me, so it must be right. According to the song, my study abroad adventure of a lifetime will come to an end, and I will return to the cult of St. Mary’s. Except this time, I’ll be aware of my surroundings, its culture, and the comfort that comes with being a sheltered “adult.” I cannot wait.