Yesterday, June 27, marks the first departure date of many IES students. Our IES Berlin program celebrated together on Thursday night, where we shared a nice meal at a Mediterranean restaurant, reminisced over the semester, and took one last group photo.
Despite the fact that I know that friends and fellow students of mine are either on their way back to the U.S. or are already home, I still don't really believe it. I know it's incredibly cliché to say that it hasn't sunk in yet, but it hasn't. It probably won't be until I head to IES sometime next week and notice that a few familiar faces are missing. Or maybe it won't sink in until the next wave of departures starts and I'm forced to bid another goodbye to people I care about.
Either way, I'm truly thankful for all the people I've had a chance to become close to. My IES Berlin classmates were more than just people I interacted with as part of the program: they were friends from all over the world, friends who I sometimes had little to nothing in common with other than the fact that we had all been swept away by the allure of studying abroad in the once-divided city of Berlin. Somehow, this one shared trait made up for the fact that our lives were different in almost every other sense. We shared a life-changing experience, one that we all chose to undergo, and that alone will keep us tied to each other forever.
I could write books about how study abroad changes us and how being immersed into a foreign culture taught me more about myself than I ever hoped to know, but I would still be missing the point. It's not just studying abroad that has changed me. Sharing an adventure with my fellow students and friends, friends who I know I'll keep in touch with for as long as I can remember my own name, led me to discover that one never gets to spend enough time with those who mean so much.
Sometimes it isn't until we are separated from the ones we care so much about that we realize how much they truly meant to us. For, as a wise little bear once said:
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." - A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
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<p>My name is Ali, and I'm a Political Economy major at the University of Southern California (Trojans!). Ever since I was a little kid and found out that there was such a thing as "study abroad", I dreamed about doing it. I'd stare at the famous Midwestern cornfields and wonder what it would take to go see the world. I loved the idea of picking up and leaving everything, even if it was only for a short while. Now, I'm living the dream and studying abroad in Berlin, Germany.</p>