Separation. This is the part of studying abroad that I have been dreading since I made the decision to leave. As I gear up to board a flight to Europe in just a few days, I’ve thought a lot about the process of physically and emotionally separating from my friends and family. For me, the hardest separation is going to be from my boyfriend, so I decided to write my separation letter to him. Prior to sharing my letter, I thought about how to make this separation healthy. That is, how often we should talk and how to make this as easy as possible. We both talked about our concerns about me leaving, and we came to the conclusion that we should pick a day and time, once a week, after we are both settled into our schedules (me in London and him at QU), that works for both of us to talk. We figured that this is the easiest way to make sure that we talk a healthy amount. We talked about how I can’t talk to him every day, as that will definitely inhibit my ability to effectively separate, and it will make it harder for both of us. I found a quote that I felt really exemplified the positive effects that this separation will have on our relationship, and I shared it with him.
“Absence is to love as wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small and kindles the great.” —Roger de Bussy-Rabutin
This quote shows that our relationship will just become stronger as the time without each other goes on, as wind spreads a wildfire. By separating healthily, it will allow us to experience this time apart in a positive way, and come back together closer than we were before. I also shared with him my knowledge of the Rite of Passage Theory, and how if I don’t separate effectively from my old self and old status, I will not be able to fully transform. After sharing this letter with him, I feel a lot better about leaving, and so does he. We feel a lot more prepared to deal with the concept of long distance, which is new to us since I’ve never gone more than 10 days without seeing him. I think this may hold me back from separating in a healthy way, because I’m going to miss him a lot. I think it might be hard for me to stick to talking to him only once a week. Even when we were on break from school, we talked every day. It’s going to be a really different experience for us, but I know that if I stay strong to our plan and allow myself to really separate from him, we will make it through even stronger than we were before.
I will consider my study abroad experience successful if I make it through the semester happy. Right now, I’m very nervous. I’ve had spontaneous emotional breakdowns over the course of the past week because I am so unsure of what is going to happen when I leave. Unknowns are what give me the most anxiety in my life. So if I get to London and am happy there, make new friends, and feel like my time was worthwhile, I will consider my experience successful. I know it is difficult to measure these things, but I will know by the way I feel whether I had a truly enriching and fulfilling study abroad experience.
I like spontaneity. I was never one for making really in depth plans, and I prefer things that happen seemingly out of nowhere. I plan to embrace this characteristic of my personality in order to expect and accept the unexpected while I’m studying abroad. I also know that life in England is going to be completely different from life in Connecticut, and since I have never been there before, I really don’t know what to expect. My town in Connecticut has to be about 96% white and Christian. I know that won’t be the case in London, seeing as it’s a big city. The diversity of culture, language, and religion, will be something very new to me. I think the newness of the diversity it will also make it easier for me to appreciate it. It’s like when you see a famous painting or work of art – you appreciate it more the first time you see it. But I’m more than ready to see what new experiences London has to offer. Luckily for me, I’m very good at “going with the flow,” so I’m not very concerned about facing unexpected challenges while I’m studying abroad.
I chose a picture that really accurately describes what I’m thinking and feeling about going abroad. You can see based on this person’s face that she is very nervous, which is how I’m feeling at this present moment. I fly to Europe in 4 days, and I’ve barely packed. I also have no idea where to start on that process. I also know that it is going to be really different there, and the unexpected makes me nervous (although I’m good at rolling with it once it happens). This also shows my thoughts because I keep telling myself that everything is fine, that I’ll be fine once I get there, and that I’ll get everything done (which I’m not thoroughly convinced). “Everything is fine” is a phrase that comes out of my mouth almost daily. It also describes my behavior because since I have convinced myself through my thoughts that “everything is fine,” I
keep procrastinating doing everything I need to do in order to really be ready to go (hence why my suitcase is still empty – everything is fine). There’s a lot I have left to do before I go to London, but, despite my overwhelming feelings of nervousness and anxiety, I still am very excited. I can’t wait to see what this semester holds for me.