On Leaving Europe

by Hannah Sroka, MUDEC Spring 2021

Editor's NoteIn May, Hannah wrote a moving reflection on saying goodbye to her MUDEC friends while remaining in Europe for her internship. As her internship came to a close in June, she followed up with her thoughts on saying goodbye to Europe.

It feels like I was writing my last reflection a few days ago rather than a few weeks ago.

I distinctly remember writing about my roommate Taylor packing and thinking, “I’m so glad that I don’t have to worry about that now!” But as I’m writing this, my clothes are strewn all over the floor, and a bag full of way too many chocolate spoons is balanced on Taylor’s old bed, and my suitcases are the ones places haphazardly in front of the door. I’ve packed and unpacked my bags more times than I can count, and I’ve already said goodbye to my bosses, friends, and favorite MUDEC faculty. I’ve bought souvenirs and put my old SIM card into my phone. My room looks less like I’ve lived here for almost six months and more like I’m just staying for a few days. My clothes aren’t folded in the wardrobe, my towel isn’t hanging on the rack in the bathroom, and my little knick-knacks aren’t littered on my nightstand. Everything that made this room mine is shoved inside a bright orange suitcase that feels way too heavy.

I honestly cannot believe that I’ll be home soon. At the time of me writing this, I have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday left in Luxembourg. I’ll have to leave my host family on Sunday evening to spend the night in the airport hotel, and then I’ll board my 6:00 AM flight to Amsterdam the next morning. Then I’ll sit in the Amsterdam airport for four hours, miss Luxembourg already, miss my family again, probably cry a little, and board another flight to JFK. Then I’ll land in New York City, get through customs, grab my bags, find my family, drive back to my home in central Connecticut, and probably take the best nap of my life.

And then my study abroad experience will be over.

(Well, at least for now. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about studying abroad again—maybe not in Luxembourg, but ideally in somewhere close enough that I’d be able to spend a weekend visiting.)

Hannah in Salzburg, Austria

I’ve been looking forward to this semester for my entire college experience, and it’s hard to believe that it’ll be over in three days. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sure, it wasn’t too great to realize that my travel destinations were limited to Belgium, but I still had a great time with my friends at Ramborn. Or, I was upset when I realized I wouldn’t make it to Paris or Spain, but I was able to spend almost two days in Austria, which had been my dream destination for the whole semester. I made some truly great friends, developed some stories that’ll be fun to tell to everyone back home, and bought way too much chocolate. I tried traditional foods from all over Europe, wrote and edited a few articles that were published in a real-life magazine (and an online one too!), and spent way too much time in Dan’s office.

I also had two incredible internships. The first was with City Savvy Luxembourg, an online publication that centers around all things Luxembourg—things to do, places to go, sites to see, and events to attend! I researched these upcoming events and turned press releases into articles, and I also looked into some of the many things that Luxembourg has to offer, like bike trails and golf courses. I interviewed a few restaurant owners as well! I also got to help with the publication of LUX WMN, a feminism-centric magazine, by writing an article and editing several more.

My other internship was with Kelsey Hopper Music, where I did a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I wrote numerous blog posts about various music-related topics, like the pros and cons of piano lessons, the Suzuki Method, and my own musical experience. I did a little bit of social media work and helped edit a brand new website as well. These internships certainly kept me busy, but they also helped me make great connections and gain valuable experience. (Although I will admit that after eight weeks of nonstop writing, I’m kind of ready for a break from my keyboard!)

It’s because of things like this that I’m glad I stayed. My MUDEC experience wouldn’t be complete without these extra seven weeks, and I’d encourage anyone who’s thinking about either staying on or coming back to do it. Sure, I missed my family and friends, but I’ll be seeing them again before I know it. I gained valuable experience and made great connections. And I know I’ll always have a second home here in Differdange.

As soon as I finish this, I’m going back to the Château one last time to drop some things off. It feels weird just typing something like that, but at the same time it feels right. I’m not struggling with feelings of “I have to stay in Luxembourg longer” like I was in May; I feel like it’s time to go home. I’m ready to do nothing during quarantine and get vaccinated as soon as possible. I’ll miss Europe on those evenings where all my friends are busy, or when it’s Sunday afternoon and I realized I didn’t do anything all weekend, or when I’m eating fries and wish I had some European mayonnaise. When I move back to campus in the fall and start seeing pictures from the fall cohort, I’ll wish I was there, but I’ll also wish them the best.

I’m so glad I stayed, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I’m also so glad that a few days from today, I’ll be back home.