If I had a dollar for every time I told someone I was studying abroad and they grimaced; I’d be at least twenty dollars richer. “Aren’t you afraid?” They’d ask. And given the state of the world right now, and the answer is yes, I’m terrified. Not only am I going to be in a different country and the world being the way it is, but also I’m not a person who isn’t particularly fond of change- I tend to hang back in my comfort zone. I went back and forth for a long time trying to decide if this was really a good decision, and each time, the answer was yes.
I’m not the type of person who steps out of their comfort zone too often; I have a habit of getting stuck in my own head and just going through the motions of life. I crave more; I crave newness and adventure. As the final days of summer dwindle away, I’m eagerly preparing to begin a new and exciting chapter in my life.I read a tragic article about a girl who died in a freak accident so close to her home, and something clicked in my head. Anything can happen to anyone anywhere on any given day. You can’t paralyze yourself in fear, you need to go out and live your life. We seem to think we’re invincible in our little bubbles we call our comfort zones, when we’re just as vulnerable as anyone else. Living in Europe is a whole new animal than living in America, but I believe as long as I’m smart and vigilant, everything will be okay.
We also live in a time that social media sets the precedents for virtually everything. We are all guilty of hiding behind our phones instead of living in the moment. In doing this, we lose real human contact, real experience. Too often I have found myself wasting hours of the day looking at pictures and imagining a life I could be living, rather than making the best of my current situation. I am going abroad to change that. I’m determined to go out and live my life the way I’ve only dreamed about.
This famous quote by Ronald Reagan spoke to me, “There is a flickering spark in us all which, if struck at just the right age…can light the rest of our lives, elevating our ideals, deepening our tolerance and sharpening our appetite for knowledge about the rest of the world. Educational and cultural exchanges…provide a perfect opportunity for this precious spark to grow, making us more sensitive and wiser international citizens through our careers.” I’ll be waiting for that light bulb, that certain “aha” moment when I finally find the piece of myself that’s been missing. Through undergoing this liminal experience, it will forever change the way I see the world.
Something that Slimbach says in Becoming World Wise really resonated, “What’s important is that we should discover things that are new to us and feel the same wonder and elation as if they were new to everyone else”(Slimbach 4). Taking in the new culture will definitely teach me new things about myself, show how to interact with new people, and learn to deal with different life situations. I am eager and open-minded to trying new things for the sake of the experience. The places I travel, the people I meet, and the memories I make my journey abroad will stay with me long after I’m back in America. These life lessons will transcend through the following stages of my life, which is truly invaluable.