“You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, I told him, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.” -Azar Nafisi
Part of me doesn't want to believe it, but the time has come for us to say good-bye not just again but for the last time. There are not enough words to express how grateful I am to have been able to experience the amazing opportunity of studying abroad in Paris, Rome and Madrid. It feels like just yesterday I arrived in Paris, jetlagged and missing luggage. Now, an empty suitcase sits on my bed waiting to be packed for the fifth and final time. But, it's not just clothes and souvenirs I'm bringing back. It's the pictures, stories and memories that I know will stay with me for a lifetime.
I have to be honest-I am not 100% sure what my transition process will be like when I return to the United States tomorrow. Of course, I will be happy to see my family and friends as the school year approaches. But a part of me will feel like it is just another stop along the way; I have created three different lives here in Europe, places I have fallen in love with, restaurants my roommate and I call "our own" and ways of living far unlike my daily life back in the states. I do not think it will actually hit me until I am in one place for more than two weeks, able to settle down and process that the trip I had been dreaming about for so long yet lived for such a short time is over. It actually does not feel real that I am returning back home. It probably will not hit me until I board a plane with a journey time of more than two and a half hours. Or when English is the primary language. Or when I drive home with my family from the airport and find myself back within the familiar and comfortable city that I call my own. As much as I might complain that I live in one of the most boring cities in the world, I feel like I am coming back with a fresh perspective and appreciation of my own "home" culture. Whatever happens throughout the duration of the summer, the following semesters at school, and the ever-looming future, I know that I will take this experience with me.
This experience has been everything that I could have asked for and more. I honestly did not know what to expect when I applied to study abroad. Everybody tells you that it is "life-changing" or "indescribable." Well, looking back on it now I completely and wholeheartedly agree. Of course, you have the stories from things that happened on a daily basis. But, you'll never be able to really explain how you felt in a single particular moment. Or how someone really made an impact on your entire experience. These are the things I will remember and cherish forever.
A sincere thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog posts and putting up with my random rants and thoughts on a daily basis. I am equally grateful to have been able to share my journey and experiences of studying abroad in these three unique cities. With that, I leave you with a quote that I found which I believe sums up how I felt about my study abroad experience. "Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.
Au Revoir, Ciao, y Hasta Luego,
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Hannah is a rising senior at University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, majoring in Human and Social Development with minors in Psychology and Education. When she is not in class, Hannah serves as Vice President of Coordinators on the Panhellenic Executive Board and a member of the Student Government Senate as well as being a member of the Homecoming Executive Committee and Kappa Kappa Gamma. While she has been on a safari in Africa and tried fresh sushi in Japan, this will be her first time studying and traveling in Western Europe, a dream of hers since high school. She is excited to document her adventures and hopes to share this blog on the study abroad adventure of a lifetime.