Hopefully some decent answers to your questions!!!

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Hey all (again)!!! Thank you to everyone for their questions about studying abroad and APO. I really enjoyed reflecting on them and was able to come up with a few responses, so I hope they help!

1. Have you found that being a member of APO has benefited you in other facets of your life?

Yes! APO has been a great conversation starter especially when meeting new people outside our campus community. When I was flying out of Dulles airport to head off on my study abroad semester I met up with 20 or so other students and it was one of those slightly awkward "hey, what's your name/major/college/etc" introductions. But...with more digging I found out that two of the people in my group were also in APO on their campuses! One of the girls and I have stayed close and have been able to bond about our experiences related to APO. Honestly it was nice to make a friend so quickly especially not really knowing anyone else.  
Being associated with a group like APO is also a great resume builder and networking tool. While I love the brotherhood for the community and the commonality in interests, it is helpful to have this listed on your resume when you apply for jobs or internships. In my experience someone associated with your employer either knows someone who was in APO or they themselves are an alumnus. In interviews this can be especially helpful because it connects you to something and you are more likely to be remembered after the interview. 

2. What's one thing that's surprised you since you've been abroad?

Honestly I'm surprised by how challenging it can be at times. I have traveled a lot on my own before and thought that that made me very prepared for these four months away. Reality check: it didn't. It can be lonely at times- you are without immediate connection to your family, friends, home, everything that has been normal for some time. But this means that study abroad becomes (as someone here told me) college on steroids. You have to go through the whole freshmen ice breaker thing again with meeting people and it takes about a month to adjust to new friends, classes, and on top of that, a new culture. 
Even though I've said that I don't want to think you that I haven't had a rewarding experience. This semester has been one of the most important, if not the most important, period in my life thus far. You get to become completely immersed in a new place- understanding the people (from how they order coffee to what they do on public transport- and here public transit was initially awkward for me), learning about the food (this is crucial), and figuring out how you fit into this new society. 
I had heard from other people who have studied abroad that you really learn a lot about yourself during this semester and it actually is so true! I'm not gonna write that all out here (but feel free to ask me when I'm back if you'd like!). Sometimes it can be frustrating because for a while I was learning more about what I didn't like, but that is a hidden gift in its own way! Studying abroad is what you make it- what you put in, you get out- so my advice is to accept that not everything will be perfect and amazing. Some days will be hard, maybe even some weeks but if you appreciate the little things and challenge yourself to learn from your mistakes and try new things you can and will have an amazing experience!

3. How has APO affected your experience abroad, if at all?

It is great that this blog is a thing and that pledges are interested in connecting with abroad brothers! I have continued following posts on the facebook pages and through emails but aside from that I haven't been too impacted. Luckily my awesome little and grandlittle added two new people to our line so I have been invested in hearing about the pledge class and the going-ons of the semester. 

4. What do you miss most about home/APO?

This could very quickly become a long answer so I'll try to keep it short haha
I miss my family and my amazing roommates (5212!!!). For me it was kinda weird to see pictures of big little week and events like that because I miss doing those things along with service projects! Thursday night meetings were another weird thing for me to adjust to not having because for two years my Thursday's at 7 have been reserved for APO, so not having plans was strange.
Aside from missing people and the norm of my life back home I really miss goldfish. They are my favorite snack and I have still not found them in Europe. I guess being abroad helps you recognize the small things you appreciate!

I hope that answered some of your questions, but please let me know if you have any more! Vi sees! 
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