Off-Campus Study: Jabari Benjamin '18
I had many wonderful adventures abroad and, whenever you travel, you never know which one will be your favorite until you get back home. When thinking back on all the great stories, one story above all leaves the biggest imprint in my mind. There was a bar in Bath known as Opium. In only the first few weeks abroad, this bar quickly became the hangout spot for myself and the other ASE students. The bar truly felt like our own little treasure trove. It was underground with dim lighting and had a very old vibe that we were all drawn to.
One night, as our time in England was slowly drawing to a close, we were relaxing in Opium. Amidst our laughter and jokes, we could all feel the silent despair in the air. We knew that soon we'd have to head back home, so we made it a point in the final two weeks to drain every ounce of fun out of our trip. As we shared stories with each other that night, we happened to stumble upon a desk drawer that we had never bothered to look into before. We opened the drawer and in it were literally hundreds of letters packed inside. There were letters from every type of person you can think of and they were all written on sheets of napkins. We fell in love immediately and spent the rest of the night reading them - all of them. They were funny, sad, happy, exciting but above all they were real, real moments that real people had in that very same bar. There were even letters from past ASE participants who stumbled upon the bar and the drawer as we did.
It was a piece of history, a piece of history that we realized in that moment we were all now apart of. So we grabbed the nearest set of napkins, passed around our pens, and wrote. We sat down and wrote about everything. The things we hated, loved, our passions, for what felt like hours we sat down and fit everything we could on those tiny napkins. Then we placed them unsigned in the drawer for the next adventurer to find. Thousands of miles away in a small underground bar I became a part of history. It was informal and unsigned — on old strung out shards of napkins, but there was an unkempt beauty in its informality.
Anyone and everyone will tell you that the best thing about going abroad is the unplanned adventures. If you plan on going abroad, it's imperative that you plan for these unplanned adventures. It sounds counter intuitive and begs the question "how do you plan for an unplanned adventure?", but in actuality it's really easy and simple. It's all about your mindset. When traveling out of your comfort zone you must develop an "I'm ready" attitude. Make a pact with yourself before even stepping on the plane; Tell yourself that if it won't hurt you, why not try it? I promise that with this mindset you will stumble onto your own favorite story and I'm excited to read about it when the time comes.
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