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### Elevating Independence: Rooks Explores the Next Level Through Studying Abroad

On August 18, 2022, my parents and I gathered at Casa Nueva, reflecting on the past 18 years we’ve shared together. It was a poignant moment as they had just helped me settle into my freshman dorm, preparing to leave me to fend for myself for the first time. As I navigated my way back to East Green, still teary-eyed from our farewells, I believed that the sense of independence I felt at that moment was unparalleled. Little did I know that a similar wave of emotion would wash over me when bidding farewell to my parents before embarking on my semester abroad in Germany. These past few weeks studying in a foreign land have truly opened my eyes to what real independence entails.

Research conducted by The Institute for College Access and Success indicates that a minority of undergraduate students opt to pursue higher education outside their home states. An article in The New York Times suggests that these students, accustomed to significant distances separating them from their homes, tend to possess the self-reliance necessary for studying abroad. As I do not fall within this 20%, I have encountered a steep learning curve in cultivating the required self-sufficiency.

The city where I am currently studying abroad is nearly 4,500 miles away from Ohio, resulting in a prolonged period of separation from certain family members and friends. This physical gap has also fostered a psychological disconnect, underscoring the reality of my independence.

While this reality may evoke feelings of apprehension and homesickness, it has propelled me into a state of self-sufficiency; tasks I would typically seek my mom’s guidance on now demand my independent handling.

Moreover, there are facets of studying abroad that necessitate sole responsibility, irrespective of parental presence. For the first time, I am accountable for my rent, establishing a bank account, and navigating the bureaucratic procedures essential for my legal residency—all conducted in a foreign language.

A significant portion of the country’s businesses express frustration over the complexities of governmental red tape. This bureaucratic framework extends to the regulations governing international student status in Germany, posing intricate challenges. Negotiating this system has not only fostered my independence but also instilled in me the confidence to manage the technicalities of autonomous adulthood when the occasion arises.

A fundamental aspect of studying abroad involves embracing solitude. As per an article by The Post, solo travel is deemed essential for personal growth, fostering confidence, self-discovery, new connections, and liberation. Through solo ventures to shopping centers and cafes, I have acclimatized to independent exploration, shedding any self-consciousness associated with solo activities. Embracing solitude has taught me the value of introspection and self-reliance.

While moments of loneliness and daunting responsibilities are inherent in studying abroad, each challenge has contributed to my resilience and self-reliance. I have learned to appreciate solitude, navigate bureaucratic hurdles, and thrive in an unfamiliar environment. These experiences have imbued me with a newfound sense of independence that transcends the boundaries of my previous comfort zone.

Sophia Rooksberry, a sophomore majoring in journalism, shares her personal insights. Please note that the opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Post. For further discussions, reach out to Sophia on Twitter.