Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rites of Separation” By Zelia Pantani Branford, CT

To help deal with the struggles that may come with separation I wrote a letter, intended for my immediate family and closest friends (from school and home) that I believe will feel an impact by my absence while I study abroad for the next four months. After the passing of two childhood friends in the year 2015, it has taught me an incredible amount in terms of the value of life and time spent with your loved ones. For that reason, I shared the letter with my family and friends on December 31st 2015, to leave all past thoughts in the past year. I wanted to start fresh with a brighter and better 2016, and now I genuinely feel as though I am ready to depart. At first, I was anxious that perhaps the letter was going to come out as seeming rude and that there might be different expectations in terms of my constant contact with those still at home. Specifically, for people like my Mom and Dad, who are going to be worried about my safety, this was a conversation we needed to have. After explaining the importance of separating in a healthy way, I stumbled upon a quote that I felt would really ease all worries, “Time doesn’t take away from friendship, nor does separation”. My favorite part about this quote is that it encourages the viewpoint that the relationships I have now will still be here when I get home despite separating myself for the next four months. My parents and I agreed that while I am abroad I need to separate and detach from the life I currently embody, but I am able to do that and simultaneously inform them once a day of my safety. In order to insure that I successfully separation in a healthy manner, we have set up a day once every two weeks to FaceTime each other and fill in the big gaps of what is really going on in my world and theirs. This calms most of my qualms I previously had about being able to fully separate.

When I arrive in France though, I need to be wary of how the next four months of my life will continue. Yes, I recognize that I need to separate from my old life but I also need to learn to embrace a new life as well. Most importantly in this new life of mine comes a new educational system and culture. The good thing about me is I often do not set expectations about how an experience should go, meaning I allow myself to be pleasantly surprised with how life unfolds. There are going to be many different dynamics about this new life I am about to enter and I feel as though having a set expectation could set me up for failure. However, on the other hand not having expectations also could lead to failure in terms of education. School and my academic success has always been important to me which is why I don’t forsee myself as doing poorly while I study abroad. However, I am about to enter a complete different school system, language and country entirely. Currently, I am registered to take a science class with a lab which is an awesome experience I am looking forward to. Yet, I have to remember small details such as Europeans using the metric system, which is different from America. Even now I notice that I will have to be adaptable and make changes based upon the situations I am presented with. For this reason, I am only going to base my success on how hard I try. If this science class ends up being insanely difficult and I receive a poor letter grade, as long as I’ve put all the effort I can possibly put into it, I will be happy. This concept goes for all aspects of my life while I embark on my study abroad journey. I will get results based upon the effort I put it, whether that be for my academic life, social life or physical.

Something I’ve always been told is that I have a really positive attitude in regards to change. I accredit part of this mentality to the fact that I have often dealt with change in my life, and I believe that I live a happy and healthy life. Yes I am certainly nervous to adventure into a new location and call it home. Yes, I certainly don’t know how to pack for an occasion such as thing since my suitcase is currently 10 lb. over the maximum weight limit. And yes, I have all my tourist books already packed in my backpack so I can read them on the plan prior to my arrival. However, I am exuberated to me taking this journey and that within itself proves that things will work out. To me this picture shows excitement and anxiousness, which is everything I’ve felt thus far on my journey. As the next three days fly by I will and my family drops me off at the airport to fly overseas alone, I will certainly be crossing my fingers hoping things will work out. And the best part about it, is that I am 100% confident that they will.   IMG_0560


3 thoughts on “Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rites of Separation” By Zelia Pantani Branford, CT

  1. I completely agree that in order to have the most successful transition possible, we all need to have a positive attitude. I, too, have dealt with a lot of change and crisis in my life, and I know that will help prepare us both for the unexpected. Separation is really hard, but we have to remember that this is temporary. At some point, we will return to the US and we will, once again, be a simple car ride or a two minute walk from all of our friends. We will come back different people, too, and we can share our knowledge and our experiences with everyone. That is part of what makes me so excited to have this experience. I can’t wait to share all my stories with my friends when I return home. Good luck with your flight! I hope it goes smoothly and that you fall in love as soon as you set foot in France.


  2. Hey Zelia! Now that I have reached my destination, I can honestly tell you that keeping optimistic during times of change and adaptation is your key to having a successful time and transition into this new culture you are exploring. You certainly run into some challenges during your first week, but the best thing to do is recall the reason why you wanted to come here and let it drive your passions to overcome these challenges. Challenges are meant to help us grow, and you certainly will as long as you embrace them and let them change you for the better. Best of luck in France! 🙂


  3. I really like what you said about being happy with outcomes as long as you put in the effort. This is something that I have a problem with and find very difficult because if I do not get the result I want, I am not happy regardless of effort. I admire this way of thinking and I truly believe it will help you in your study abroad experience and in life in general. I wish you all the best in academics and your future French endeavors!


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