Friends and family! I’m just days away from coming home, and I’m so looking forward to seeing many of you soon. It has been a LONG four months.
Thoughts on Growth
The semester ended the same way it began: cold, gray, and fittingly rainy. And in many ways, I still feel the same way that I did on the day I arrived. I am still lonely, still homesick, and still very much out of my element.
It is hard for me to accept that this experience provoked growth. Most days, I didn’t even feel like myself. My personality seemed to disappear, and the identities that I cultivated at home – determined athlete, passionate leader, caring friend – were lost. I felt so far from the person whose resilience once finished marathons.
But I’m starting to feel better now, and I’m beginning to allow the growth to prevail. In retrospect, I was resilient. Even on my lowest days, I continued to go to class, to exercise, and to appear normal to those around me. More importantly, I stayed. I spent four months in a place where I was unhappy, and that wasn’t easy. And though I considered it often, I never chose to go home.
I also became more independent, even if it didn’t feel as empowering as I thought it would. I imagined choosing independence – chasing self-discovery on solo trips, seeking quiet introspection in coffee shops, absorbing the city on long walks – but really, it chose me. I had a hard time connecting with other students, and in the end, I didn’t make any friends. It was extremely lonely for a long time, but looking back I’ve realized that I adjusted. And if I can adjust to that, to being alone, I will be stronger because of it.
With some time and some distance, I feel confident that other areas of growth will continue to become evident. It’s hard right now to separate the memories of my time here from my largely negative feelings about it, but I’m looking forward to reaching a point where I can appreciate the experience for what it was instead of what it was not.
I’m headed home this summer for an internship at a web design and marketing agency. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family, rediscovering my favorite running routes, and taking some well-deserved time to recharge.
Looking ahead, I’m entertaining the idea of some “Where Are They Now?” -type posts about my return to the U.S. this summer and to F&M in the fall. So even though this is the end of the road, the story continues. Additionally, my blog will live on forever in the DIS archives.
A Final Goodbye
So for now, I’m signing off. I am thankful to each of you for your loyal readership, your kind comments, and your thoughtful advice. Vulnerabilities and all, I have really enjoyed sharing my life with you for the past four months. I am endlessly grateful for your virtual companionship.
For the last time, XO.