It is now less than 72 hours until I am on my flight to Australia and the separation phase is finally a reality. Just up until a few days ago, separating from my friends, family and dogs seemed like the hardest thing I ever had to do, and something I have been avoiding at all costs. The thought of leaving my life behind for four months while everyone else continues on back home has been terrifying all summer. But now that I am only three days away from boarding my flight, I finally feel that excitement coming back that I had before. As much as I don’t want to say goodbye, separating is the most important step in this study abroad process in order for me to successfully have a Rites of Passage.
I decided to write my separation letter to the people who have made this journey possible for me: my mom and dad. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when I am the only child. Being fifteen hours away has not been the easiest for them to digest, but they have been supportive in every way possible. I am not the greatest when it comes to handling other people’s emotions, so I tried reading my separation letter in as casual of a way that I could. I shared it at night while watching TV together, and they responded with a hug and an, “I love you.” They knew and accepted why I had to leave; not just for a once in a lifetime experience, but for my own personal growth and identity as well.
When we first had discussed how we would communicate earlier this summer, my mom said, “I better hear from you every single day.” But that prevents me from successfully separating. To help them see what I personally needed to get out of this study abroad experience, I shared with them this quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Thurman) Seeing what the world has to offer and not being so closed off to just where I come from really will open my eyes. Experiencing challenges and obstacles along the way is what will make me grow as a person in the end. I want to change and become the best possible version of myself, but constantly being in contact with people back at home will ruin that for me. I have slowly started to say my goodbyes, and am closer each time to fully separating. When I do, I will have endless possibilities to explore and be fully open to the new environment I will be placed in.
After reading my letter, I feel ready to separate. Although, I know I will face challenges along the way. I have not even left yet and seeing my friends posting on Snapchat makes my heart ache just knowing I won’t be back with them all. In order to get through this, I plan to not check my social media as much as possible while I am abroad. The time difference and data charges definitely help with that, but even for myself I just need to put the phone away. If I am too focused on what is going on in my old life, then I can’t fully immerse myself in my new one.
I want to have a successful study abroad experience; my friends and family will be there when I get back. I traveled to Peru four years ago for only 3 weeks, but the way I saw the world completely changed. I have never dived right into such a different environment so deeply as I did on that trip, and I plan to do the exact same thing while I study abroad in Australia. To have a successful study abroad experience means to see things in a new light; to be more cultured; to look at “home” in a different way, not bad, but just different. For it to be successful means my heart will hurt so badly on the day I have to depart back to Boston; it means I made life long friends and memories that I will never forget. I refuse to hold myself back from having all of that just because I was not able to separate from my past.
I am ready for the change and for all the unexpected situations that I will face within these next four months. I chose this picture of a person standing on a mountain alone, because I have to rely on myself to get through this study abroad experience. It contains the quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Separating from my life for a little while is that first step.
(Thurman, Howard. “Today’s Quotes: Go Through The Rite Of Passage!” Daily Love with Mastin Kipp. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.)