Monday, June 8, 2015
Sara Katschka

By Sara Katschka*

Settle in. It’s story time.

When I started college, I had every intention of studying in France. That is, however, until my first visit to Iowa’s Study Abroad office. I found, while sitting at a small round table, surrounded by dozens of brochures for both French programs and English programs, a thick blue booklet. The words University of East Anglia were written in big white letters across the cover. Once I saw this cover, my search was over. I discovered the University of East Anglia when I was thirteen, just beginning to look for colleges with notable writing programs. The purpose of finding such a program was to show my parents just how serious I was about writing. It became my dream school, but as high school progressed and time came to think about college, my parents made it clear that I had to finally put an end to all hopes off attending UEA for my entire college career. This all changed with the discovery of the booklet (which was outdated and I was told later really should not have been in the bin in the first place).

london_eye_sara_katschka


Me standing in the shadow of Westminster Abbey, in view of Big Ben and the London Eye

I set my sights on England.

I came to England to study at UEA and to experience adventure. I did experience adventure, and it was far more rewarding than I thought it would be.

I fell in love with English culture (the delicious chocolate, the tea, the friendliness of the people, the soft drink named tango, the love of nature, and the love of literature). I discovered what the Brits and other Europeans really think of Americans (one of my classmates asked me if I said the pledge of allegiance before I go to bed every night..I’m still not sure if she was joking).

Most importantly though, I cultivated a respect for myself.

I am a perfectionist. In the past, a slight mistake was enough to ruin my mood and even my day. Whilst travelling, I learned quickly that trips never go exactly as planned. Things (whether good or bad) happen, and they happen regardless of whether of not I make a mistake or not. The more I travelled the more I came to understand that I could not make things perfect and that I had to accept that something would eventually go wrong or give up travelling altogether. The more I travelled, the more I grew to feel comfortable in even the most uncomfortable situations. In Pontorson, France for example, my friend and I were set to stay in a cabin in a small outdoors, camping ground. We arrived at the accommodation office after it had already closed for the night. Rather than hyperventilate and cry, as I honestly might have done at the beginning of the semester, I remained calm, assured myself that we would find a way to fix the problem, and located a call box next to the front door. A voice on the other end told me where the key was, and the problem was solved. I hope that I can continue to take what I’ve learned and apply it to life back in the States.

I am sad to leave England. I spent the best five months of my life here. I thank the University of Iowa Study Abroad office for all that they did to help studying here at the University of East Anglia possible. I must thank my family for their support as well. Though I am sad to leave, I am hopeful that something wonderful awaits me in the near future.

*Sara Katschka is a senior from Hilliard, Ohio majoring in French and English at the University of Iowa. She is directly enrolled at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.