March 2, 2014

Over the past few days, as orientation week unfolded and I mixed and mingled with the other enthusiastic exchange students, I have been mulling over this essay favorite: “What do you hope to achieve from your study abroad experience?”

Of course, I wrote a whole essay on said topic in order to even get here. But after two weeks of actually being here, the question means something else entirely.

Studying so far away from home appealed to me because it would take me away from the things that I was used to: family, friends, and my home. I am one of those who think people are capable of change (or at least deserve the opportunity to change—fostered by the ‘right’ situation and all that). But I think that it’s hard to change yourself when everything around you is the same. Somehow, picking up and coming halfway around the world just made sense.

I want to allow this experience to change me. I hope this short time in such a dynamic place will replace some of my fears and insecurities with more comfort in my skin and some easygoing confidence. I hope to learn to forgive some of my mistakes, to forget the regrets, and to finally live by the many lessons I have learned in my years away from home. And, I think most importantly, I want to gain back that drive I used to have to go for what I want without looking back.

I have definitely taken steps towards the person I want to be, but, somehow, some of the rocky terrain made me lose my footing, causing me to stumble back a ways. I needed to start over somewhere new, to have a second chance with a different uneven path.

I don’t know what’s at the end of this one, and, for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I don’t care about the destination. This path is all about the flora and fauna and soil along the way. I think I’ve been too focused on the future for too long. I’m putting many, many aspects of my life on hold for six months as I focus on this journey—and I’m okay with it.

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