Cara L. Dochat '13, Gettysburg College


This memoir piece comprises three parts, each of which tells a humorous and perhaps slightly embarrassing story of interpersonal upsets the narrator experienced while studying abroad in Europe. Their telling exposes the narrator as a naïve American tourist, despite her conscious attempts to be culturally sensitive and respectful. The intent of this piece was neither to make a political statement about being American in Europe, nor to present yet another trite account “the best four months of [my] life.” While my primary goal was to share these stories for their entertainment value (if self-effacing), my hope was to transform the piece from a fact-driven personal essay into a compelling piece of memoir in which the narrator’s character drives the reader to stick with it. Nevertheless, readers in workshop noted that the piece does grapple with the misguided belief that merely travelling abroad accomplishes some ideal of cultural immersion and enlightenment. The experiences are enriching, yes, but hard won. Further, their meaning may not be realized until long after they've passed and are subjected to workshop scrutiny! In any case, the piece was fun to write, is riddled with irony, and I hope the reader derives some pleasure from it.