With one week until my departure, I feel the reality of my situation setting in. As I make my rounds to hangout with my friends one last time before I leave, I realize these are unlike any other goodbyes I’ve had. I have talked to enough people who have went abroad in the past to accept the fact that when I come back I will, without a doubt, see the world differently. This inevitable fact actually scares me a bit. Listening to someone who has come back from abroad talk about their experiences is like listening to someone explain an incredible dream that they had, and watching the sadness in their eyes set in as they realize its over. Yesterday I said goodbye to my friend who will be studying in Barcelona this semester. It was a strange goodbye because we both knew that so much would happen in our lives before we saw each other again. While I am excited for the journey that lies ahead, I can’t help but be disturbed by the fact that I might no longer be satisfied with my ordinary life when I return from such an incredible experience.
Reading my separation letter to my family went pretty much as I expected, ending with my brother and father being understanding and my mother getting all emotional. I told her I wanted to set a time to FaceTime once a week and her response was “only once a week?!”. I usually talk to my family at least a few times a week while I’m at school, but I know realistically with the 12 hour time difference it will be difficult to do so while abroad. My dad, much like myself, is not all that emotional. But now he is realizing just how far away I actually will be. Instead of me being the usual two-hour car drive away, I will now be a 22-hour plane ride away. Its good that this realization is setting in now so that we can really try to make the most out of our last week together.
Finishing my internship today was a strange feeling. For most of the past 3 months especially, I have been in the high paced New York state of mind. This mindset has mostly followed me over to Quinnipiac in the past, so I have pretty much had it my whole life. People here walk faster, talk faster and get things done faster. While this is an incredibly efficient way to live, it is also a very stressful way to live. Sometimes I feel as if I am missing out on certain things because of this time demanding efficiency. One of the reasons I chose Australia is because Australians are known for having a laid back lifestyle. I am excited to take in their way of life and to enjoy the little things. When I return I will try to compare the Australian lifestyle with my usual New York lifestyle and see which one I like better. I think one of the great benefits of traveling is that it opens your mind to so many different possibilities, so many different ways of living. With some obvious exceptions, I don’t think there is really a “right” way to live; you just have to find what works for you. Traveling allows you to take in each different way of living, and to find your favorite. Different lifestyles are not something that can be read about in a textbook, they need to be experienced.
My picture this week is from my recent trip to Italy, it is the dome ceiling of the Roman Pantheon. While the view from looking up at the dome is very beautiful, you can only see a fraction of the sky. This can represent our pre-abroad selves, only viewing a fraction of the world from where we have lived most of our lives. But once we step outside and look up, we will realize that there is so much more. I think a somewhat over-used, but still impactful quote that relates to this comes from St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I hope that when each of us returns we have a couple of chapters down.