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An Open Letter To the Person I Was Before I Studied Abroad

by Hailey Lindblom
An Open Letter To the Person I Was Before I Studied Abroad | AIFS Study Abroad

Looking back at this image, it is hard to believe that I have been away from home for a little over three months.

Sure, you have done this many times before back in Chicago, but this time it is different.

You took a big step this year and needless to say, I am beyond proud of the person that you have and are becoming. I remember being so afraid to study abroad; crying thinking that I made the wrong decision, but now realizing that it was the best decision to be made.

Without taking on this opportunity, I would have never learned what I have today.

“The greatest discovery of oneself, is to adventure out into the world and to find themselves in every place that they have visited.” 

My heart has been captured by every single place that I had the opportunity to visit this past year. I have met people that have made me realize great things about myself, and who I will hold dear to my heart forever. They have challenged and pushed me into ways that have shaped the person that I know I want to become. They have opened many doors for me and I them. Together, we got to travel parts of the world that we would have never imagined. And in these places, we were captured by the culture, the history, the art, and the people. Things that take people ages to learn, we were able to learn in hours.

We were enriched with the opportunity to learn a brand new language.

At times, this task was challenging and sometimes frustrating, but in the end it was worth it. I remember being so upset at myself for not being able to understand the language. I was not able to order food in restaurants and had to constantly ask for the English menu, but now I am able to hold conversations with people and am able to show off my knowledge of the language to family and friends. I hope that you continue to practice, and learn more of the Italian language. It is so important to know more than one language.

I am able to travel by myself.

Yes, I traveled to different places by myself. I thought, the best way to learn about myself is if I travel alone. The funny thing is, I learned that I do not like being alone. I made friends during these solo trips, ones that I continue to talk to today and that I have made plans to visit in the near future. Instead of doing things by myself in these unknown places, I was asked to accompany them, and I could not refuse. I like being around people, because people make me really happy. Although, I did enjoy going to sleep in my own room, I was excited to spend the entire day with the new friends that I  made.

Everyone will not like you, but that is okay.

I have struggled with the idea of people not liking me, since I was a little girl. Sure, it would be nice if everyone liked you, and that you got along well with everyone but, that is not realistic. It takes up so much energy to try and please people, but are you really pleasing yourself? The answer is no. Instead of wasting your time trying to get everyone to like you, you should be spending time with the people that you already know that like and accept you for who you are. I would rather be with three people who genuinely care about me than to be surrounded by ten who do not care at all.

You do not need to be so hard on yourself.

This trip was a time for self discovery. I learned that I am beyond hard on myself and that is not okay. I have this fear that I am going to disappoint my family, and it breaks my heart, Being a first generation college student, I want to do everything I possibly can to make them proud. I have a tendency to get upset if I do not get the grade that I was hoping for. Sadly, this has happened in one of the classes that I was enrolled in while studying abroad. I would constantly call my mom complaining that I wasn’t working hard enough, when in reality I was. She told me to stop being so hard on myself, and that everyone gets bad grades. I was not willing to listen, but once I did, I finally understood. Not everyone is going to understand certain ideas that are being taught in a class, and that is okay. You are majoring in a certain field for a reason, and although it is not the grade you wanted, you still had the opportunity to learn all that you could. The most important thing is that you tried.

Time is an important thing.

Time is so short, so make the most of it. I still cannot get over the fact that three months ago I was just landing in London to begin this adventure of mine. Everyone told me that this time would go by so quickly and that I would be home before I knew it. I did not want to believe them, but sadly they were right. I would like to think that I spent my time wisely! I have traveled more than I thought possible, I made every moment count by going out and learning all about Europe. I spent time with people that I am hoping to remain friends with forever. I discovered places and food that I have fallen in love with. The most important thing to remember is that time is not always going to work in your favor; you may think that you have all of the time in the world but you do not. You need to make every second count.

Home is where the heart is.

As I am counting down my final days until I go home, I have to say that I am very grateful for the opportunity that I had been given. I do now consider Rome as another home, but it will never be my REAL home. I am very excited to get back to my family and my friends and the lifestyle that I know best. I have learned so many things, and I cannot wait to teach others about the discoveries I have now unveiled. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to come back to my second home and reunite with the people that I have met. For now, I will cherish these fond memories through pictures and videos.

A piece of my heart now belongs to Rome, and I believe that one day I will return.

Arrivederci,

-H

This content was contributed by Hailey Lindblom, who spent her fall semester studying abroad with AIFS in Rome, Italy.

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