As I sit here full on three scoops of gelato and avoid studying for midterms (yes, I am abroad, though my current status sounds quite similar to life at home), I thought I’d procrastinate more by sharing a midterm update on my time here thus far. This blog is meant to serve not only as a memoir of where I’ve been and who I’ve met, but the precious moments and life lessons I’ve learned along the way. Apart from what I’ve learned in class, recently I’ve been thinking about some of the top lessons people say studying abroad teaches you and just how exactly I am coming to understand each of those lessons personally.
Making new friends. This is more of an appreciation post than anything because I don’t think I would have had the time I have had here so far if not for the friends I have made. Truly, it’s not the places you go, but the people you are with and man, are these friends of mine making some kind of memory. Not to get too sentimental, but a little over a month in and I am already dreading the final baci when we go our separate ways.
Living in the moment. Among the Instagram posts to show off all the cool places I’ve been and FaceTiming friends back at home to stay updated on life, it’s hard at times to be both here and there without being too consumed by social media or making sure I “captured” the moment. But here, where there is so much to see and do, wanting to cherish each and every moment with the people I am with, you see how much more there is to life than what we idolize in our daily lives and through social media. Each day, I am reminded of what’s really important, not having the latest iPhone or the perfect job, not having the thinnest body or always eating the perfect food, but being wholeheartedly present in each and every moment. Time is so valuable and missing out on moments because of discomfort or fear of failure is something I’m slowly but surely letting go of and learning to fully appreciate the now.
Being free. Free to be who I want and do whatever I want, with no past judgements, associations or expectations weighing down on me. Being able to escape the stress and insecurities of life at home in place of living without abandon has given me a sense of relief, feeling of revitalization and most importantly, a spirit of complete contentment. There are not words to explain the overwhelming joy I get from surrendering my old anxiety and starting fresh; a spirit of freedom I only hope to continue relishing in.
Knowing where and who home is. When I talk about my family, friends and life back at home, I am beyond thankful that talk of home brings a smile to my face. Being away from home makes me that much more grateful for the strong support system and loving community I have to rely on and to go back to when I return. I could not imagine having a greater family or group of friends and how lucky I am that I get to call them home.
Finding yourself. I think back to who I am at home and who I am here, and as much as I think I “know” who I am, each day I am faced with new encounters and experiences that change who I am and who I am becoming. When taken out of my regular, comfortable environment, I am presented with endless opportunities to build myself into the person and character I strive to be. It’s not that I was ever lost, but that I still have so much to discover and here, I get to find more of who I am, parts of me I will take back to find myself at home as well.
For all that’s left to learn from studying abroad, continue to learn I will.