The Magic of Study Abroad: “My Transformative Experience”

Hannah Johnson ‘21
Egglplant Editor

They say studying abroad is a life-changing experience. You become a “citizen of the world” as you embrace an entirely new culture, language, and way of life. Not many dare to take the plunge, but in order to take a peek behind this mystic veil, we at the Eggplant were lucky enough to score a brief interview with Hannah Johnson ‘21, currently the only Holy Cross student in Russia, who also happens to frequently write for the Eggplant, sometimes in character.

So, of course, what we really wanted to know was, is what they say true? Are the majority of people who don’t study abroad missing out? I came to Hannah with this concern and she had this to say…

“No, it’s absolutely true. Trust me, it’s the best thing to ever happen to me. I will admit to you that I was a bit of a skeptic at first… but I found that, before too long, [I was a] totally new–and better–person.”

This idea intrigued me. I asked more, trying to find out why and how exactly studying abroad changed her into who she believes is a fully different person than who she was before she first left the States.

“Oh, you don’t know?” she replied. And she leaned in close, as if divulging a precious secret to me. “They also say that… every student who studies abroad has a single, powerful, life-changing moment, called… the transformative experience.”

I was captivated at this point. After some further conversation and pleading on my part, I was finally able to get her to tell the story of her own transformative experience. I listened closely, wondering if I was about to get some insight into human nature, a glimpse at what it is about the world we live in that fundamentally shapes us as people. I’m sure you will be just as enlightened and delighted as I was, learning her story…“Okay, so… It was last semester, in the midst of wintertime, on a chilly evening. I was crunching along in my boots down Novoslobodskaya, the street I live on in central Moscow, walking back to my apartment for the night. Just kind of thinking to myself, you know? Spacing off. It’s a quiet evening, not really many people on these sidewalks. And I’m brought back to my senses and I pause my walking when there’s a dash of movement in front of me, across the snow. A rat had emerged from the gutter of a nearby alley… and he just kinda ran, in front of me, across the path, onto the street. And I just stopped, and I was watching him, you know? And he scurried about, onto the street… Thankfully there are no cars passing by at this moment, must have been a red light down the street… he, like, looks around a little, but before too long, he turns around, scurries back the way he came, back across the path, and runs back, into the gutter! And I just watched this, thinking, like… Wow, you know? I watched the rat run around, it really made me think. He went, like… onto the street, from the dark alley… and then back into the gutter… It was something.”
Needless to say, I thanked her graciously for sharing this moving tale with me. I’m sure we can all learn a thing or two… And perhaps studying abroad might be worth a try, to better ourselves. Happy Chinese New Year 2020–year of the Rat.

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