“What If I Fall? Oh, My Darling. But What If You Fly?”
I decided to share my separation letter with my family and significant other while we were in my living room at a family event. I used the quote from Erin Hanson, because I thought it really described the way I had truly been feeling, apprehensive and scared, even a little terrified. I knew from my freshman year of college that I would be studying abroad, I just wasn’t sure where I would go, but as time went on I realized to stay in a country that only spoke English would not be as great a challenge for me as going somewhere that did not. I have already been studying abroad in the United States for two and a half years, and so I wanted a new challenge, something to force me out of my comfort zone yet again. I had this idea in my mind that I’d be going to Paris, all I could think about was how fantastic the adventure would be, in a city that is so aligned with my personality.
But when I came home for the holidays, something changed. Everyone in my family is so supportive and was constantly coming to me with well wishes, prayers and gifts to enhance my study abroad experience, like journals, guides and dictionaries. The support I received from family and friends alike overwhelmed me, and I began to think about all the things that could go wrong while I am studying abroad, and how hard it will be to get to my parents (physically) in the event that something happened.
For a while, I started to regret my decision, I was afraid I was putting my relationships and my safety in danger by forcing myself so far out of my comfort zone, but my parents and my significant other reassured me, and reverberated all the things I had been thinking prior to coming home, that this was going to be a great experience, that I would come back loving Paris and emerge even more independent and confident within myself.
In my opinion a successful education abroad is when you learn a lot about your surroundings, the culture and the people. My success abroad will not be measured in grades but rather how well and in depth I get to know the city of Paris, the epiceries, the food, people and language. How well I will be able to navigate the city at the end of my time abroad, and how reticent I will feel to leave.
I am willing to expect and accept as the unexpected. I am willing to accept that for awhile I will be uncomfortable, and I won’t know anyone or anywhere to go. I expect that it will be hard to keep in touch with my family regularly and so we will have to schedule time together to talk to each other.
In order to tackle the expected and accept what will happen, I will keep an open mindedness and willingness to try new things. I will have to consciously acknowledge that in fact, I am uncomfortable and that it will not last long but it is something I have to get through to emerge a Parisian.