Preparation for the End of a “Vacation”
133 days, four classes, 10 flights, and too many bus trips later, the end of the semester is finally here. With the sun shining and finals over, it is sad to be heading home to a dreary November while my friends are still in school. It is also sad to think that this whirlwind journey is coming to an end. Nevertheless, I am so excited to see my friends and family after such a long time. I have definitely never been away from home for this long. I’m probably most excited to simply sleep in my own bed and have my mom dote after me, despite touting my new sense of independence. It is truly a bittersweet feeling. The excitement and relief of being home will probably wear off before I know it, and I’ll be ready to be back in the South Pacific.
It is almost bizarre to think about explaining my experience abroad. I know I won’t be going back the same person I was when I left. The past four months have given me the opportunities of a lifetime. I doubt I could’ve told anyone I would be bungy jumping and seeing a show at the Opera House last June. Along with all of my exciting new stories, I feel like I am more aware of the world around me, and particularly how my country is viewed by other Western nations. I feel more self-sufficient from living in a city, mostly alone, on the other side of the world from North Carolina. I feel as if I am more prepared to “go with the flow” and an ability to adapt to new educational and work environments. Even experiencing homesickness has allowed me to feel more appreciative of my friends, family, home university, and hometown, as well as allowed me to experience personal growth through independence and self-sufficiency.
When one asks the average student about his or her study abroad experience, it is often focused on the sightseeing and the adrenaline-pumping, but having my own abroad experience has showed me how the opportunity is much more encompassing than the fun photos we see on Facebook. Being abroad provides a perspective you can never understand if you never leave the country you were raised to know and love. At times, it’s scary, and it’s sad, and you are so ready to go home. But as I reflect back on the semester, I think the anxiety and the fear of the situation is part of what makes it so rewarding. Instead of being homesick and retreating to your comfort zone, you have to take a leap of faith in order to really perceive your place in the world. Understanding where you come from and where others come from just makes all the fun stuff in between worthwhile.