Halfway There

And yes, I AM living on a prayer.

This week known as Reading Week, which is more like Writing Week for me as I try to tackle 3 research papers with my spare time, marks halfway through my time studying abroad.

As with any semester, every week feels like it drags on, but the weeks pass by very quickly, a strange phenomenon. My days are down to a routine, and I can get my way around campus quite easily. I have familiar faces around me now. It almost feels weird to think back being on my home campus despite also knowing that like the back of my hand. I can get used to change fairly easily, so any hesitation was more of first-day jitters.

Because at first, it definitely felt like I was a freshman all over again. Everybody else, being it halfway through the year, has established themselves here. Especially on a small campus, that is even more evident. These people have a closely knit community I really admire, but it’s hard for a “drifter” like me to get to their level. I was back having that same anxiety from my first year wondering if I was doing it all wrong, if I should be doing this or that instead. I think the kids call that FOMO: the fear of missing out.

A consideration I was hoping I wouldn’t have much to deal with was mental illness, but alas, but depression and anxiety have hit me hard. This semester has also been different in that I’m not invested in a lengthy schedule. I have free time now I never had before during the school year, and that was very hard to get used to. I’m not good with free time, but it was a challenge for me to tackle.

Now on to the more fun things. I am beyond grateful for my experience thus far. I have found a new place to call my own, a beautiful place with a landscape I have immediately fallen in love with. While it’s intimidating to have two fluent languages conversing around me, it is also exciting. My campus has some beautiful buildings and people in them. 

Should I also mention again how I saw Justin Trudeau last month? That alone makes the trip worth it. But I have also enjoyed exploring the nearby burough and downtown area. And yes, I enjoy being a spectator right now as I see the current state of America and where it might be heading.

This experience continues to teach me every day. I learn the value of what “home” means to me, which has never actually been a place, but the people I hold dear. Keeping up with contact as well as a long-distance relationship aren’t easy, but they are worth the effort. 

I have always prided myself on being independent, but studying abroad is a true test of that. Which admittedly, it’s intimidating. Simple things like figuring out the bus system or getting lost can become overwhelming, but I have truly taken this time as personal growth. I have been able to learn about myself like never before. I have been able to dig deeper and discover new passions. I can grow more comfortable with myself and the person I would like to be, all of which are very empowering. Obviously you don’t need to leave the country for four months to figure that out, but being in a new environment is so helpful. 

I cannot wait for what the next two months will bring and how I can enrich my time here even more. As I had expected, my travel bug is now buzzing at its loudest volume, making me really consider how I want to move forward into the coming school year, my last year. 

The things I have to come learn and appreciate I hope to carry with me back to the States and beyond. I want to look at any sight and be in awe. I want to see the goodness in people. I want to make time for the things I truly believe matter to me. I want to look at fear and hesitation in the face and just live.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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