The other night, a bunch of friends got together to have a farewell dinner—Asian style. We started cooking around 8PM and didn’t get round to eating until 10PM. But the best kinds of bonding in our residence occur over cuisine, so I got to talk to and meet a bunch of other people.
Today I said goodbye to one of my closest friends. On the first day of class, she stumbled in right as I was becoming worried that my program had put me in a class of non-English-speaking Asians. Why that was a concern, I don’t know, because I’m an English-speaking Asian and where I’m from, that’s not too rare. Strangely, I didn’t intend to become so close with her; she was in an American study abroad program and from experience, program people never stray too far from their own cliques. However, over time and with the help of our common class schedule, our frequent lunches graduated to coffee dates and then to bumming at my place between classes with a chick flick. I knew that I would click more with certain people over others—I just never expected to find a kindred spirit in a Southern Belle.
But that’s one of the lessons you learn from studying abroad, and although my journey is far from over, I can accurately look back and say that so far, it’s been one of the best—yet most turbulent—4 months. To be honest, I’m not sure it’s hit me yet that some people won’t be in my life anymore. Although I’ve only known everyone for 4 months or less, these past 4 months contain a year’s worth of experiences—with a few, it feels like I’ve known them for about the same amount of time as my college friends.
Finishing finals had always been a bittersweet event, although back in the states it was more sweet than bitter; courses, sleep deprivation and exams are over and although you’ll be missing your friends for a few weeks, you were sure to see them again come next semester.
Abroad, however, is sometimes more bitter than sweet. The end of finals usually brings about the end of a friend’s journey abroad and the start of their transition back home, usually meaning that unless you were close with these people, you most likely won’t see them again. And in some ways, the same applies to the person you were at the beginning of a certain collection of experiences and the person you have become.
Change is difficult to swallow, and unfortunately for people like me, it is a larger pill than it is for most people. Experiences are usually more fun and meaningful retrospectively and sometimes, you get tied to a part of the past that wasn’t even amazing-oh-so-great to begin with. But it is through retrospection that you learn of the changes that have slipped under your nose.
Change is part of the human condition; we find ways to celebrate it.
So in that vein, here’s a celebration of events (some are blogged) that have helped me become who I am today:
- Spotty reincarnation of depression-like feelings
- Long spans of loneliness throughout summer
- Being suspected of plagiarism by a professor
- Being in nonstop, little-to-no-break courses for a full year and a half
- Sometimes crippling fear that I will never be employed or loved
However, these experiences have been overbalanced by everything I’m thankful for:
- I graduated from the University of Michigan
- I flew abroad to study the French language (a language in which I am now conversational !)
- I conducted a creative writing workshop with an incarcerated youth
- I finally came out of the fog two years after its start, as shown by this extremely
highhappy post that happened…
- Imagine Dragons concert
- volunteered at Bonnaroo
- Visited my grandparents
- Took a rejuvenating creative nonfiction course
- Declared myself a Yes Woman and having the summer I’ve always imagined, for example:
– Day at the lake
– Attended the Ann Arbor Summer Festival
– First 4th of July without the family (aka like an adult)
- DID A FREAKIN’ JUICE CLEANSE
- First solo trip: Avignon and Marseille
- Traveled to Barcelona and Madrid
- Discovered a passion for travel videos, writing, and photography
- Went skiing in the French Alps
- Ending the year in GERMANY
It’s surprising that, when it comes down to things, how few yet monumental events transpire within 365 days.
Here’s to hoping 2014 brings just as many adventures and experiences. Here’s to hoping that my good experiences outweigh the bad. Here’s to hoping for a gentle transition into my working life.