I wrote the following on the plane ride home from England, but I never got around to posting it. I thought that I might as well share it now, since I meant to share it all along…
It’s hard to believe that this is it. I’m going back to the United States. Time passed so quickly, but I don’t feel as if I wasted any of it.
Over the past 3 months, I’ve met so many different kinds of people from so many different kinds of places. I’ve traveled more than I ever imagined I would, and I saw things that I never imagined I would see.
This isn’t just the close of my study abroad trip; it’s also the close of one of the best years of my life. I’ve traveled to Haiti, Belize, England, Scotland, Ireland, and France.
As I am leaving, I feel sad—sad to be leaving the country that I’ve fallen in love with and the people that have shaped it. I don’t know when I’ll come back to Europe, and I don’t know if (hopefully when) I’ll ever see my friends again.
ISA anticipated these emotions, and so they put together some information on reverse culture shock: the acclimation back into one’s home culture. One of the best bits of advice was to think of yourself as horizontally rooted instead of vertically rooted. In other words, remember that you have relationships that stretch all around the globe. I’m not firmly planted in Pittsburgh; instead, I’m sprawled across the globe, feeding off of everything the world has to offer.
If I can give you any bit of advice, it’s to travel. Yes, that does seem obvious, but I’m not just talking about international travel. I’m talking about traveling anywhere you can, even if it’s only a few minutes away. Go out and see the world. Immerse yourself in the diversity of cultures that the world has to offer. Try new things. Move outside of your comfort zone. Feeling uncomfortable? Good. You learn so much from doing things that are out of the ordinary for you. It’s one of the best ways to grow and develop as a person.
How has this trip changed me? It’s definitely made me more independent. And independence goes hand and hand with confidence. I feel as if I now have the confidence to finish my degree and (this is when my computer died).
I suppose it’s fitting that my computer died then. I don’t know what I’m doing after I finish college, so I don’t have the capability to truthfully finish that sentence. Any attempt will just end in something meaningless, cliche (I say this after I just spent a few minutes thinking about how I could end it). Instead, I’ll leave it blank and just let the future decide what comes next.