While I was abroad, it definitely crossed my mind that this might be the best thing I ever did. Having come from a small town, there wasn’t a whole lot that I’d done in my first 20 years that ever made me think this was the best it was going to get — until I got to London.
Growing up, I never imagined myself staying in my hometown — or even my home state — forever. Every one of my dreams included moving away, because bigger cities on the other side of the country are where all the opportunities are. There was only one problem: I’ve always been a huge homebody, and the thought of leaving my family is debilitating. Study abroad was the perfect fit for me because I knew my return date before I even left, and the major things like where I would live and go to school were already taken care of. This left me the room to learn how to live away from my family and explore a new city on my own, which was ultimately the first step for me.
Of course, I knew I would have an amazing time abroad. Why else do you sign up for it? What I didn’t know was that I would discover my favorite city, meet my best friends for life, and find myself actually not wanting to come home at the end of the semester.
You’ve probably heard of something called the “ah-ha” moment. To my knowledge, everyone has one abroad. Well, here’s mine: I was in Santorini, Greece, a destination I thought I would never get to see, but one I dreamed of nonetheless. My friends and I planned a day on a yacht, where we would visit all the major beaches — the ones you thought only existed in pictures on sponsored travel blogs — and spend the day on the water. The people who took us out had just made us ad delicious, authentic Greek meal, and my friends and I were sitting on the on the edge of the boat looking out at the water as the sun set.
I literally had the thought, Whose life is this? Because it’s surely not mine.
I used to panic thinking that I was wasting my youth. Now, here I was living it to the fullest. What will happen when I get home? I have to finish school, and get a job, and be an adult. It couldn’t get better than this, could it? I actually posted on Instagram and captioned it “I have absolutely peaked and I don’t even care.”
I know now that I was wrong. A year later, my memories abroad are the best that I have, and I’ll treasure them forever, but it’s because of my experience that I know there’s only more to come. Because I studied abroad, I’m more confident that I can fulfill my dreams of moving away and making my own life somewhere else — and who knows what’s in store for me there? Now I can’t wait to start my life and return to London (and Santorini, of course) someday and remember when I thought it couldn’t get any better. Because hopefully it will have.
What I’m trying to say is that yes, studying abroad may feel like the height of your entire life, but it’s only the beginning. So don’t waste a good, like, 10 months of your life worried that it will only go downhill like I did, okay?