“When I was (studying abroad) in Austria for the past year, it was under lockdown. The isolation of not being able to really connect with the city until six or seven months after I'd arrived was hard. I actually dealt with that through cooking a lot, since grocery stores were the only thing open for a long time!
I started cooking a lot of meals with my roommate. I taught my roommate what cornbread is. She had never heard of cornbread before! And I was able to meet several people through my dorm: a lot of Germans, a lot of Turkish people, a lot of Eastern European people. I was able to listen to their perspectives, not only on their own countries but also on Austria, on Germany. And because I was the American, I was the minority, which is also a very interesting experience.
When you travel, you get a sense of scale. Realizing that yes, the world is a lot bigger than just your tiny bit of Tulane. When you understand that sense of scale, I think you understand the importance of listening, the importance of empathy, the importance of realizing that people's backgrounds influence how they think about the world, their perspective on the world, and how they interact with you and how they interact with others! I think putting yourself in a different environment where you have to react to something you've never responded to before is a great way to reflect on your own identity.”