Two weeks ago, I got on a plane in Lisbon for my journey back home to Oceanside. My time in Portugal was short and went by so fast, yet we did so much in such a short period of time. It was like a double-edged-sword, I was sad to leave yet happy to get home to my family.
My grand adventure officially came to an end just over a week ago and I am back home in Northern California reflecting on everything I just experienced. The more I think back on this trip, the more I realize how much I grew in just four weeks thanks to study abroad. Aside from being an amazing time to see more of the world, it was time to challenge myself and break down anxiety.
The first stage of my international journey began in — of all places — Brattleboro, Vermont at the School for International Training. Vermont itself was lush, beautiful and more alive than the dry hills of California. It was the perfect place to reset and refresh the mind.
Three hundred and thirty-six days: That is how much time I spent away from home this year. Well, that is how much time I spent away from my San Diego home. Eleven months: That is how much time I spent exploring the world. Seeing things I never dreamed of seeing. For years, I dreamed about how my time abroad would be. The anticipation killed me for so long. Now it is all over.
Before I arrived in Bangkok, I had a very clear idea of what my role here would be. I was going to be a student. I don’t mean to flaunt, but with a whole life of experience and a passion for learning, I think I’m pretty good at being a student. This confidence made me feel as though I had a leg up on the competition. It made me feel like taking the leap and spending six weeks in Thailand would be easy. I was both right and wrong.
My study abroad program at Auckland University of Technology is coming to an abrupt end. I left for New Zealand just about four and a half months ago, and time has gone by seemingly in the blink of an eye. While there have been instances where it felt that time was moving slower than molasses — especially right before my departures for trips and during exam weeks — it’s hard to believe that I will be boarding a plane to the United States within the week.
Looking back on four weeks in Finland, I can confidently say that studying abroad was one of the best decisions of not only my college career, but my life. I explored places I never expected to see, I took classes that just aren’t offered anywhere else, I met new friends from both SDSU and around the world, and I had the time of my life. So, why were there so many tears the last week?