As my departure date rapidly approaches I found the act of composing my separation letter to be a very healthy way to compile my thoughts and feelings. I really focused on the dichotomy of the strength and weakness that comes to you in the separation stage. I tried to explain to those with whom I shared the letter, my closest friends and family, why this stage is critical to study abroad as a rite of passage.
In order to aid my separation process, I have decided to make a conscious effort to spent time away from my phone. I will leave it in my apartment whenever it is reasonable, and safe, for me to do so. This way, I will not be able to see what my friends and family at home are up to, and rather focus on all of the amazing things I am surrounded by in Rome. I have explained to my parents that by virture of this and the other realities of life abroad, they cannot get worried if they cannot immediately get in contact with me at any given time. I promised to alert them if I am traveling somewhere for the weekend and anticipate being off the grid for any length of time, but in general, they cannot be concerned if I am not able to answer their calls or texts right away.
The quote that I have identified to relate to and share in the letter was, “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” (John A. Shedd). This quote particularly speaks to me because it addresses both my own anxieties and my parents’. There is so much uncertainty and even danger out there in the world, but perhaps the greater danger would be forgoing the experience and personal growth that will come out of studying abroad due to fear. I recognize this, and in reflection so do my parents, which is why they are supporting me in this journey. With their blessing, and the encouragement of my closest friends, I do feel prepared to separate (in less than 48 short hours!)
For me, a successful education abroad experience must include personal growth. I am most concerned with proving to myself that I can successfully live and flourish in a completely different environment, completely on my own. If I can build a full and happy life for myself there, I will have proved to myself that I can survive in whatever situation life throws my way. Although I live on campus, Quinnipiac is only 10 minutes away from my home. I am used to having all of the comforts of home at the drop of a hat. My biggest concern will be my inability to see my family and friends whenever I want. I hope this experience will bring me to the kind of independence I am looking to gain.
I have always been the kind of person that appreciated stability, and shied away from change as often as possible. However, I have also faced many challenges before, and know how to help myself through uncertain times. When unexpected challenges arise abroad, I will try my best to be flexible in my outlook, and confident in myself.
The overwhelming emotion I have been feeling the last few weeks is that of being unsettled. I feel as though I am in a state of limbo, prepared to leave but not yet time to depart. I chose this image, of a man suspended in the air, to depict the way I am feeling at this time.