What a whirlwind of a week it has been for me, one that may have or may have not helped my rite of separation, depending on how I handle it. I have been spending the last five days in Hamden and Quinnipiac welcoming the new freshmen class, navigating them through the nerve-racking process of changing your life style and experiencing something new. From my perspective, they have nothing to fear, knowing that this will some of the best four years of their life. But as my flight grows closer, I realize that I should be taking that same advice. I am growing anxious as the days go on, but I know that separating properly will ease my mind and help me grow into my new self.
Over the past week, I have begun to separate from the people that are the closest to me. I have shared my separation letter with my girlfriend and friends from home last weekend at my house, and plan to share it with my parents tomorrow. My girlfriend and I had a difficult, but an extremely helpful, conversation on the importance of healthy separation. We both came to the understanding that in order for me to truly benefit from my study abroad experience, we must give each other significant space and patience. By explaining things through the lens of a rite of passage, we knew that it would be next tom impossible to immerse myself in a new culture and not be homesick if we were constantly fighting on the phone or just talking as much as possible. We set the expectation that we would take a break from our relationship, but that we would try and talk once a week.
The quote I chose to share in my letter comes from Mark Twain, stating, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Hamden definitely represents a safe harbor, complete with everything that has made me successful and comfortable over the past two years. However, I constantly remind myself that when I look back on my life, I do not want to be complacent. I want to venture off into something new, discover new harbors, and feel confident about it. Barcelona definitely represents a new adventure for me. I have never been anywhere where the first language is not English, and my only experiences in Europe have been with my Scottish family who provided everything I needed. Now, I will have to explore my new city and country as an adult that must provide themselves with new experiences. I know that my curiosity will drive my adventures, and that using all of the resources available to me will help me along the way. With this mindset, I believe that I can separate cleanly and move on to my next phase in the rites of passage.
In this picture are some of my best friends from both home and from school. I chose this picture because my friends are extremely important to me, and I am constantly fighting the fear of missing out on what they are doing back in America. Even though it might be hard, it will make my transformation into this new culture that much easier.