I am willing to bet at least most of you have heard a cliché or two about studying abroad. I know I did before I left. I remember reading blogs where they said, ‘When I went abroad, I had the chance to lose myself and get lost in the moment…’ and recall hearing individuals tell me, “Going abroad gives you the opportunity to truly find yourself.”
Now as beautiful as I find such statements, I was not completely sure I understood what they meant. I have never been a fan of getting lost, and I did not realize I needed to find myself. Where have I been? I was asked these questions several times before I left and did not answer them very seriously. It was not until actually being abroad that I started developing some real ideas on what such phrases truly meant.
Fast forward to the present and I am almost two months into my study abroad program! People were not kidding when they said time flies when abroad. During all my adventures so far, I have really been able to find a groove here with a comfortable schedule that keeps me going. I have also had so much downtime where all there is for me to do is think. I believe downtime may be one of the most underrated aspects of studying abroad – you will have a solid amount of it no matter how much you try to do. It has been all of this alone time that has allowed me to dive into my thoughts on “getting lost” and “finding myself.” As much as I think that these ideas may be a little superficial and hollow, I believe that you can fill them up and do some pretty incredible things with them.
Being at the point in my life where I’m nearly done with my degree and about to leave my undergrad career, I have been able to use these cliché concepts to help enhance my life in an amazing way. I have done this just by molding them into what I want them to mean. The biggest aspect of this has to do with something I already mentioned: alone time. I have spent a large part of my time here doing things on my own. I am not a complete loner and have not shut down my interactions with people, but rather I am really finding happiness in being alone.
Back at SDSU, I found myself constantly in social situations with student organizations and was obsessed with being as involved as possible. Here, I have let go of that desire. I have slowed down my pace and started focusing on me. I want to make sure that I am taking care of myself as much as I am taking care of others. This has led to me getting back into the best shape I have been in for years, eating a healthier/monitored diet, and finding joy in traveling around on my own.
I have also been thinking a lot about my post-college career, short and long-term goals, and about what things are most important in my life. The most amazing part of all this is that I feel so at peace with it. Back home it was hard not to be worrying about what the next step in life was going to be, but while traveling abroad, you sort of stop – kind of like a mental detox that allows you to relax about your problems and reexamine them.
When my time abroad is over, and it is your turn to head out, I challenge you to figure out what it means to “get lost” and to “find yourself.” Everyone talks about it and I am sure you want to experience it, too. So do it, but be the one making it happen. It will not necessarily magically happen, but you will be so stoked when it does. Make goals for yourself, watch that TV series that you are so far behind in, knock out a book or two, take some time to think about what it is you want in life, and most of all just do what YOU want to do.
Well, enough of all that philosophy on studying abroad! Here is what I have been up to lately. I have been doing a lot of nature walks and went to one of the best in Singapore. It is called the Macritchie Reservoir Tree Top walk and there are so many monkeys it is crazy. I also traveled to some new districts, including China Town. They have tons of gorgeous religious buildings that give you a glimpse of the diversity of culture that is present here.
Lastly, I got to go to the Formula 1 Grand Prix night race! Now that was definitely the highlight of my last few weeks. There was so much to do and the cars were epic. Besides that I have just been working out, watching movies and TV shows, reading the Game of Thrones books and growing out my facial hair! That’s it for this post, everyone. Remember to always stay stoked and positive!
Garrett Hein is earning a bachelor’s degree in international security and conflict resolution at San Diego State University. He is blogging from Singapore this fall.