Lass in class: Finding solutions – and yourself – through study abroad

June 2, 2014

Here I am back in Madison. Within the week of my return to this concrete campus, I have already gotten sunburnt at the terrace and spent the beginning of my summer nights watching the sunset fall over Lake Mendota. After months of exhausting travels, I relish the summer laziness. My first post seems forever ago, and it is a tad bittersweet writing my last. 

I’ve had a week to reflect on what my experience meant and what I have learned from my adventures. There are a few things that I can definitely relay in this post. The first being, I can tell every reader that he or she should definitely see as much of the world as possible, and that my opportunity has helped me grow in every way: emotionally, mentally, and even physically. The second is that now that I have witnessed firsthand the environmental aspects of more than six countries, I can assure myself that I still have a lot to learn.

As a senior at UW, I think it important to reassure my fellow students and myself that to maintain a learning ideology is almost as important as focusing one’s life on one task.

I have seen so many variables and differences when it comes to how humanity interacts with the environment. Consequently, what once was a strong foothold on what I assumed were the facts have started to crumble and loosen for the better. I am even more optimistic about what the people in my studies and fields can do. There remains no one answer to fix every environmental issue that I’ve witnessed.

Yet I’ve witnessed multiple possibilities for solutions to things such as pollution and plastic usage. Therefore, if I had to relay one thing from everything that I have encountered, it would be this: saying yes to new opportunities and possibilities can only improve and strengthen you as a person.

In order to make the changes you wish for yourself, you need to change your experiences and surroundings. In doing so, you can solidify your individuality and improve your existence.

UW-Madison student Peyton Sweeney in the Swiss Alps

Peyton Sweeney is an English and environmental studies major from Bayside, Wis., who is studying abroad for the spring semester at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She will document her experience on a student blog, Lass in Class.