So, I am officially separated from my family and all of the normalcy that surrounds my life as I sit here in the terminal writing this travel log. The separation letter that I gave to my mom and dad was really helpful. I think that it got me somewhat in the mindset that this is actually happening and I am leaving. My mom and dad also put together a book with pictures of each of my family members and I, and then passed the book around to all my family and everyone wrote a little note next to their picture, wishing me well, as I embark on my journey. I have to say, I couldn’t think of a more healthy separation. For me the most difficult part of this phase is leaving my family for the longest I ever have in my life, and to know I have all of their full support, really gave me the push that I needed to participate fully in this education abroad experience. The only thing I think that could hold me back initially is just the adjustment the first week to a new place, I think that will absolutely make me homesick, but after I settle in and find a new comfort there it will be ok.
A successful study abroad experience to me is a semester immersed in unfamiliar cultures, in places that will push me outside of my comfort zone, and when put in that environment, I find myself flourishing. I want to have a rich experience in going to school outside of the States, that leaves me with a different perspective of our country, and other countries. I know that sometimes I struggle to handle them well when presented with challenges, but luckily this class and previous experiences have helped me to look at challenges in a more positive light. So I hope to really put that mindset to work while in Europe, and work on the way I react when given a roadblock. An Unsuccessful experience for me would be if I felt like I was struggling to find my way in Paris, and if I didn’t grow as a more independent person, and if I didn’t fully take advantage of the opportunities that Europe offers to me as an individual to grow. The cliché quote by Fredrick Douglas, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” I think describes pretty accurately how I am feeling right about now. I am a ball of emotions, very excited for the next three months, yet apprehensive at the same time. I’m not sure what I will use to measure my success, maybe I can use these travel logs. I would hope when I look back on these after three months on my own in Paris, I would be able to see a slight difference in my outlook and feel more confident about being on my own then I do now.
I would like to think I am ready and willing to expect the unexpected, I am sure that there will be times I might be caught off guard, but until that happens my plan is to stay as patient and flexible as possible. I want to have my awareness heightened and be ready to take the challenges in stride. When that first challenge presents itself, if how I handle doesn’t go smoothly, then I will know the next time to have a different attitude when going about it. Until then I will have to hope for the best.
I chose this picture of my little cousin Maddie and I from my going away party, because I think it embodies the raw happiness that I have when I am with my family, that I am so nervous about leaving behind as I embark on this trip. I hope that as I settle into my new home I can find something that brings me a similar happiness to the one I remember feeling when I look at this picture.