Note: This story also appears in the December/January issue of the Sho'men Club Newsletter. To become a member of the Sho'men Club, click here.
Women's lacrosse player Marissa Restaino spent the fall semester in England and writes about her experience from across the pond. Here is her experience.
Study abroad. Two words I thought I'd only hear but never experience. I was never one of those students who had always planned on studying abroad during their college career. How could I miss a fall season of lacrosse, leave everything I knew behind, and live in a foreign country all on my own for three months? This thought terrified me, and because of this I never really considered studying abroad. It wasn't until about February of last year that I realized the fear of leaving everything behind and venturing into a world of unknowns is exactly why I should go abroad. And, of course, there was the added bonus of being able to travel throughout Europe if I did go. And so I did it.
Currently a student at Royal Holloway University of London, located right outside of London, England, I couldn't be happier I took a leap of faith. My experience for the last three months has been incredible and one that I will never forget. I have had the pleasure of meeting numerous people from countries all over the world, travelling throughout Europe, and partaking in various activities inherent to each country's culture.
Over the past semester I have been fortunate enough to travel to the Netherlands, Prague, Ireland, and Paris. To culminate my trip I will be travelling to Barcelona where my friends and I are planning on attending a "football" (soccer) game. With very unique cultures, each of these countries has offered something different. I am proud to say I have eaten in the oldest pub in Ireland, climbed the Eiffel Tower, rode the Eye of London, stood on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, played lacrosse in a foreign country, witnessed the changing of the guards, and seen Napoleon's Tomb and the Crowned Jewels along with countless other things.
Not wanting to miss out on fall ball, I played on Royal Holloway's women's lacrosse team. Playing lax in the UK is far different than playing at WAC, to say the least. A very new sport to England, many of my teammates had not picked up a stick until their first year of "university". Beginners to the sport, my teammates welcomed me with open arms. Wanting to improve their stick skills and overall knowledge of the game, my teammates looked to me for guidance. Teaching them how to improve their fundamentals and overall tactics, I really enjoyed helping coach them through their questions throughout the season. I also played on my schools "mixed" team. This is a co-ed team; the men use women's sticks and play by women's rules. This was very different and took a lot of getting used to, but it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed trying something different. All in all, I had a great experience laxin' in the UK; however, I am really looking forward to coming home and playing at WAC this spring.
Another huge culture shock took place on what was just a normal Thursday in November for everyone in Europe, but what was Thanksgiving to me. Having class that day instead of cooking and eating all day was very weird. Luckily my parents were visiting that week and we saw a Broadway show in the city. After our matinee we found a local restaurant that was serving "Thanksgiving Dinner." They served turkey, mashed potatoes, and their version of "stuffing," which seemed more like meatballs to me. Although it was definitely not a typical Thanksgiving, my family and I made do with what we had and had a very memorable Thanksgiving.
Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I've made. I've learned many things this past semester that go far beyond the textbooks I was required to read for each of my classes. The experiences I've had, the people I've met, and the lessons I've learned are ones I will take with me forever. I could not have been happier with the decision I made to study abroad, and I recommend it to everyone.