Hi friends and family! I had planned and written a fun post for this week about several random things that I miss from home, but I ended up scrapping it. It was light and amusing, but that’s just not really where I am right now.
As I’ve written time and time again, my goal for the blog has always been complete transparency. Thinking about my post this week, I realized that while I’ve offered glimpses into my real experience, I’ve largely masked it by exaggerating the positives and minimizing how I actually feel. And that’s exactly what I wanted to avoid.
It may be upsetting or unpleasant to hear that I’m struggling. I may sound spoiled, privileged, or even ungrateful. I’m not. But at the risk of all of those things, I still see value in sharing how I really feel.
Just a brief disclaimer: my experience is mine alone. While I’m not loving it, plenty of other students are having the time of their lives. DIS is good program that has worked hard to support me throughout my time in Copenhagen.
Many people describe study abroad as an emotional roller coaster. There are highs, there are lows, and it’s over before you know it. This might be true for many – or even most – but I’ve found my experience to be a little different.
Sure, there have been highs – visiting my friend Emma in Prague, spending a week in France with my boyfriend Cam – but they’re infrequent, and I’ve found myself navigating a lot more lows than I ever expected.
I’m searching for a metaphor. I guess it’s like bumping down a poorly maintained road, one that’s full of potholes. It’s long and mediocre, and the ruts just keep coming. If you can pull yourself out, you keep rolling along until you reach the next one. And it happens again, and again, and again. Low after low.
It has been frustrating, trying, and draining. I’ve made an effort to turn things around – I moved, I continue to exercise regularly, I eat healthy meals, and I get eight hours of sleep per night. All to no avail.
I thought that things would get easier when the end was in sight, but instead it’s gotten harder. It’s almost painful to know that what I want most – in this case, to go home – is visible but just out of reach. That has been the hardest part.
The past few months have been, without a doubt, among the most challenging months of my life. I know it sounds crazy, to be unhappy in Europe, but it’s a pretty major adjustment. I tried for weeks to face the challenges with positivity and patience, but I’m quickly running out of both.
I feel so, so sad to be away from my friends and family, my school, and my homes in Lancaster and Chapel Hill. Lonely without the support system that I took for granted. More lonely to see others succeeding when I cannot. Angry that I’m not able to make the most of my experience. Disappointed that nothing has gone the way I had hoped. Guilty for feeling so negative and bitter in the midst of a fantastic opportunity.
It’s a lot. And I feel selfish for ranting and complaining and crying to my friends at home. It makes them sad too, and that’s never my intention.
A Silver Lining?
Surprisingly, my lowest lows have produced an excess of gratitude and appreciation for my life at home.
I feel lucky to go to a school that I love, where I have good friends and never feel lonely. It has always felt like home, and I’m grateful for the teammates and mentors who made it feel that way from the beginning. I may resent the workload from time to time, but at least I can write my papers in the comfort of my favorite library. For any Dips who might be reading, it’s Shad, of course.
I also feel lucky to be close to my family. North Carolina isn’t close to Pennsylvania, but it seems a whole lot closer now. At the very least we’re in the same time zone. I can call home without having to do the math first, and I can drive home if I really need to. The proximity gives me a lot of comfort that I don’t have here.
There are countless other things that I know I’ll also appreciate more after this experience. The frequent sunshine, the Southern hospitality, and the reasonably priced coffee are just a few examples.
Jokes aside, it has been a long semester for me. Not in a good way. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I can’t wait to go home!
Four weeks left and I’m counting down the days. XO