It was Amsterdam this weekend, Dublin last, and Barcelona next. It’s a flight every Thursday after Italian class and racing to the 2 p.m. bus to the airport to make it. The Ubers to the train station to board the bus and the airport food for dinner before take off. I used to love traveling as a kid. Honestly, I think I really just loved the airport—maybe even more than the trip itself. It was exciting and instilled a mature sense of “adulting” in me even if I was by the side of my parents. The eight hour flight to Milan was exhausting and I have that to thank for the hours long naps in the week that followed. Rome was exciting to plan as our first trip and the idea of taking a train across the country was something I could never fully experience as an American—or at least not practically. The trip was short, like its travel time. Trains are easier, just an Uber or tram ride to the train station and you’re set. The next weekend was Venice. Then Florence and Switzerland and fashion week and Paris and midterms and Dublin and Amsterdam.
It’s exciting, more than anything. Milan has become more so a temporary housing situation in between AirBnBs and hotels from country to country. Everyone dreams of a life that momentarily, or permanently whatever floats your boat, consists of travel. Lack of commonalities can be fun, uncomfortable in the best way, etc; but, not too surprisingly, four months of this lifestyle gets tough without much resemblance of the people and places that feel like home to you. A lot of students talk about money driven anxieties, travel worries, etc., but not too many people talk about the feeling of being burnt out.
Burnout is when mentally, emotionally and/or physically you have no energy left to give to anything or one. It's not like being tired, though, it’s a much deeper feeling. You, as a person or human being, are exhausted in some form. Now it’s not always associated with sadness or “giving up,” I don’t want to lead you in that direction. As burnt out as I am, there’s still a million things I hope to see and things I want to do, but whether I have the motive to do these things is what fades over time. Your body and mind are strong things and can take you far and wide, but they need breathing room to regain strength in between exerting so much energy. Unfortunately for us abroad students, three days in your city doesn’t exactly cut it. Leave Thursday afternoon, arrive home again on Sunday night, do it again on Thursday. Uber, bus, plane, Uber or train, hotel.
I was told about money issues, possibilities of becoming home sick or missing people but no one ever really warned me about being burnt out—granted the last grade to have gone abroad were juniors when I was a freshman and that was cut short by about two months; so, by no means is it anyone’s fault. Some people may not feel burnt out…I’m jealous of those few people, but in case you are, I was inspired by my own emotions to let someone know out there that that emotion, like mine, is valid. I don’t know anyone who’s ever lived a life like this, and I don’t exactly know how we’re all doing it.
About two weeks ago I had two friends visit me during their spring breaks. This past week my best friend’s boyfriend visited as well. While two very different situations and experiences in Europe, both parties said the exact same thing: they were exhausted after just a week in Europe and couldn’t understand how we’ve done this for nearly three months now. Unfortunately I didn’t have an answer for them, because like I said, I don’t know either.
I think every time I’ve gotten overwhelmed or felt incredibly burnt out I’ve kept telling myself that I'm fine and to keep pushing through. However, that’s only ever ended with me pushing my limits a little too much. Take this as a gentle reminder that that tends to be a universal experience for everyone. The solution? Slow down.
When I first went abroad I pictured this adventure-full four months where the only thing I could be doing on the weekends to really appreciate studying abroad was traveling. And then one weekend I didn’t and it was the most relieving breath of fresh air. I could wake up on Saturdays in my own bed and Sundays weren’t stressful, spent in airports for hours. They were calm and most importantly slow. I personally enjoy traveling so much because while it’s overwhelming, it also makes time here go by faster, an attempt to outrun any initial feeling of being overwhelmed—so maybe the two cancel each other out in some weird way. But in another sense, slowing down life means no need for probably not so healthy, temporary solutions. Using that slow, me time can look different for everyone. It doesn’t have to mean sleeping in and going to bed early, or saying no to a night out with friends. Maybe a slower weekend simply consists of your fast paced life but this time in your home city. To me, a weekend “off” from the usual schedule qualifies as doing anything that will not produce stress in my life for that weekend. Taking a breather from school work for 48 hours, eating good, filling food, but still switching up from my normal home routine to keep the weekend new and fun yet maintaining my break.
I’ve been thinking a lot about going home, and how good it’s going to feel. I’m excited for it, I’m not ashamed of that; but, I want to make sure that my anticipation doesn’t take away from the time I have left here. I think throughout all of this, my friends and I can confidently say that the emotion we’ve felt most has been gratitude. We are so incredibly lucky to be able to travel the world like we are, so take my words with a grain of salt. I think we’re all just yearning for a piece of home at this point, and that’s okay.
I think this entry was not only for anyone feeling this type of way, but also for myself—some reassurance all around. I have six weeks left abroad, time goes by fast here, just like literally everyone told me it would. From here on out I encourage and challenge you, and myself, to not only make the most of every moment here before it slips away, but also find a balance. Slow down sometimes. Life moves pretty fast, but it’s never really all that enjoyed when spent trying to move faster.
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<p>Hello, my name’s Gracie Weinstein and I am a junior studying political science and journalism. Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved to write and have always tried to use my writing to tell stories with others about some of the best, or maybe worst, experiences in my life. I believe in the power of words and the ability it has to connect strangers with one another through their experiences, whether they are shared experiences or not. Writing humanizes people, and helps others relate to them — it cuts down on barriers such as physical appearances (how one’s life looks) and allows for strangers to understand each other. Whether or not those who read my work or see my posts have themselves studied abroad or plan to study abroad, documenting each scary, fun, jaw-dropping, or brand new experience I encounter is so special to share with them. I am very much looking forward to sharing my next few months abroad with others, and hopefully inspire them to make the same decision that I did. Ciao!</p>