Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rite of Separation” By Alexandra Borges. New Bedford, Massachusetts

There is only a handful of days before I depart and I’m going to be very honest, I’m still anxious and still a bit nervous, but I am getting more excited. This is to be expected. Aside from this, I’m feeling a little sad obviously because I’m leaving my mom and family. This summer wasn’t exactly the best and my family and I were dealt some very difficult hands. Despite my grandmother suddenly falling ill and the sudden death of my younger brother’s significant other, my family has come together. These changes came rapidly and I have had to adapt to them at the same pace. Now, you may think what does this have to do with me leaving, but I wanted to share this with you so that maybe, even if a little, you can understand my feelings on leaving. I’m sure everyone’s experiences were different, but I know that it’s okay to experience these emotions. I know it can be difficult, but remembering the different things we discussed about reflection, behavior, and reaction it helps piece things together.

I wrote, more little jotted down, things to discuss with my mom about me leaving over breakfast this Monday in the backyard enjoying last of the summer sun. We talked about how we were going to communicate, what day I would call during the week, and where I would be staying. We looked at maps of where I was staying and how far everything was, I was lectured about safety while abroad. For once I wasn’t going to say much, but rather listen to her words and take them with me. It’s not that I don’t know about safety, but I know it makes her feel more at ease and may help with the separation. I know me leaving is going to be really hard on my mom this time around. I mean both my younger brother and I are off in college, which isn’t much different from last year. However, I was the closest to home so, if my mom was feeling down or missed us, she would come visit me. However, now that both my younger brother and I are so far away, it’s definitely going to be tough. We talked about it a little, how she was going to get lonely, but she kind of brushed it off probably to make me feel less worried. I’m sure we will discuss it some more. Fortunately, I know my mother very well so, I spoke to my godmother and aunts about spending time with her and keeping her company. The Christmas holiday is going to be really different, it’s going to be the first time in all my 20 years where I will not be spending it with my family. I told my mom straight up that it was going to be a bit difficult on both parties and that I would talk to her more about my plans once December comes around. I know we will most likely continue discussing more things up until I depart Monday. Although I gave my mom a letter, it was typed. I know she really likes handwritten letters so, I’m going to write another one to her and give it to her the day I leave. I think I may continue to write to her while abroad, it’ll make her happy, I think, to get them every so often.

Aside from discussing everything, I finished up packing. Can we all take a minute and reflect on how hard it was to pack all the stuff you needed into 1 suitcase, 1 carry on, and 1 backpack. Let me tell you, you guys probably already know, that was interesting for sure. I know it’s going to be double the fun packing to return home. On a serious note, even though it was difficult, it was definitely an interesting experience and although cumbersome, I enjoyed it.  I don’t know how it was for you guys, but once I was packed everything set in, it got super real, real fast. I was excited, but I was feeling kind of melancholy at the same time. It was very bittersweet.

I mean as I sit here and type this up I feel sad, but more so I feel selfish. I wanted to spend a lot of time with my family and I got it, but the circumstances were poor and not in the best quality. On top of that everyone’s been running around trying to take care of my grandmother, which I understand and I’ve helped plenty. I just wanted more time to spend with them. It’s just hard because I want to be more excited, but if I do I feel like I shouldn’t be. Obviously this is silly, it’s normal, and I know it’s all a matter of perception so, before I get set in a sad kind of funk I stop myself and take a step back. I’m clearing my head, thinking and then reacting. If I reflect on the past and make peace with everything that has happened it makes it easier to take the next step. Being too emotional, especially during time of separation, can hurt more than help. I want to do this in a healthy manner. My family knows I’m a very private person when it comes to showing my emotions, I take after my grandmother. I mean I’ll tell you I’m sad or whatever, but when it comes to crying I’ll do it on my own time. Not going to lie I will most likely cry the day before or day that I leave, which is good. Crying is healthy and it’s good for the soul. I don’t plan on keeping everything in, that just gives you a headache.

Okay, enough of feeling sad. Moving on to other stuff. I’m not as nervous as before, I was put in contact with other students who will be on the group flight with me, so I am more at ease. I am still a little nervous for the plane ride though, it’s been quite some time since I’ve been on one. My younger brother says it’s a piece of cake, but between you and me that’s only because he’s a seasoned veteran of travel. I’m glad to already be making new friends who are undoubtedly going through the same thing, that makes the departure a little less daunting. We’ve been in contact with each other, discussing things that maybe we could do as a group once we get there and what types of things we are all interested in. With that said I am getting more pumped and excited as the day approaches!

I’m really looking forward to the abroad experience. I’ve already looked at some class descriptions and they seem difficult, but then again I wouldn’t want to breeze through them. I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge, it keeps me focused on my goal. Ultimately, I want to take in this experience, to adapt and change the way I look at things, to learn in a new way. I want to be able to improve upon myself and be able to learn from what I’ve experienced, to take in the new and make it something my own. I really do hope and believe that I can accomplish this. I want to embrace the culture and maybe if all goes well be able to understand/speak Welsh. I don’t want to come back unchanged and begrudged at all the things I didn’t do. I don’t want to pass up great opportunities simply because I was too caught up with things that were going on back home. I want to, if for the moment, be cut off from the disease of social media and get lost in exploring the new world around me and create another piece that develops my character. As Thomas Merton said, ” The purpose of education is to show a person how to define himself [herself] authentically and spontaneously in relation to the world”.  This is precisely what I am looking to do. I want to discover the person I truly am and be able to show it to the world I once knew.

But let’s be honest for a moment, we know it’s not going to be easy. I mean I’ve always been pretty independent since I was young so, I’m not too worried about that. I’ve also been really good about adapting to my environment so, that I can thrive and grow. With that said, I am going to be cooking for myself the entirety of my stay, 4-5 months.I’m collecting the last few recipes to take along with me. That’s not too bad, but being a Portuguese cook there are somethings that I’m to have a hard time finding. Doing groceries every so often, preparing lunch for the next day, and  having the energy and will to accomplish it all after a long day of classes. That is one step to complete independence. I’m hoping when I make some Welsh friends they can teach me their favorite dishes. I am actually looking forward to creating new dishes and possibly even learning how to prepare Welsh dishes so, I can make once I come back home. I’m a big eater so, I’m really excited to try the different Welsh dishes. Another challenge is how to get to school. Where I am to live, I am exactly 1.5 miles away from either campus, you can walk, bike, or take a bus. Even the shopping centre is 2-3 miles away.  I have no problem with walking, but I’m definitely going to plan, once I get there, on the best route to take. It’s going to be interesting with the unpredictable weather in Wales especially during the winter. Also, from my research and whatnot, it’s a lot colder in Wales than it is here, so I can’t help but wonder if my Massachusetts winters have prepared me. I can’t wait to experience that. However, even when thinking about these challenges, I have confidence that I will and can overcome them. I’ve always been the type of person that when faced with a known challenge or even and unexpected one, I “go with the flow” and figure out how to solve them. I’ve always been very quick to think on my feet so, I am hoping that will help me with the challenges I come across. I’m also relying on my determination to help me make it through and accomplish all that I want to do while abroad.

I hope everybody has had a safe flight and I look forward to hearing about your adventures!

The journey between who you were, and who you are becoming is where the dance of Life really takes place. Be the Change. - Barbara De Angelis

The journey between who you were, and who you are becoming is where the dance of Life really takes place. Be the Change.
– Barbara De Angelis

One thought on “Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rite of Separation” By Alexandra Borges. New Bedford, Massachusetts

  1. Hey Alex!
    I feel the exact same way that you do! Leaving my mom and younger sister,like you, is going to be extremely difficult because we have gotten so close over this summer. I really like the paragraph where you talked about stepping back and clearing your head and thinking before you react. I can definitely relate to this and really do think that it helps a great amount. Being able to “make peace with your past,” I believe, is so important to being able to truly move on into the future because you no longer have any burden holding you back. I also really like that you mentioned getting emotional but that you try to keep your emotions in, instead of crying in front of everyone. I agree that it makes it so much easier on the people you say goodbye to if you hold back the tears and put on a smile until they can no longer see your face. Its almost like a sense of security to them knowing that your happy and excited. Good luck with everything!


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