Beautiful Goodbyes: The Week Before Departure

Natalia Salazar
September 2, 2021
My sister and I facing a sculpture of a head split in two.

Seven more days.

One week to get ready, say my goodbyes, and start a new part of my life. 

This countdown is permanently stuck in the back of my mind.

It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up, whenever I am talking to somebody, when I am trying to make plans, it’s everywhere. 

And the fact that I am leaving in a week, it’s not bad, but it’s not all good, it’s everything. It’s happy, it’s sad, exciting, nerve-wracking, it’s overwhelming. And I wasn’t ready for it. I knew I was going to be excited, but I was not prepared to deal with everything that I was going to miss.  

Things that I thought would make me happy ended up being tinged with the ones I’m leaving behind and the things that I thought were going to be sad were crushing.

I was sad saying goodbye.

On my last day of working as a waitress, I was literally bouncing around the restaurant from table to table. I was so excited to finally be moving on that I did not know how to contain myself. There was no doubt in my mind that this would be a joyous day. Yet, by the end, I felt a little empty. After saying goodbye to all of my regulars I was reminded why I chose to become a waitress in the first place. I had let myself remember only my bad experiences instead of thinking about all of the beautiful people in this world. One of my customers drastically changed my experience abroad by gifting me $500. I will never forget the kindness and love that I was shown.

The last day of my IT job was one I knew would be sad as I have been working there since my freshman year. This job opened my eyes up to what a work environment should look like. There was never a point in time where I felt as if I was not being valued. To celebrate my time abroad my bosses got the office Chinese food as a type of going away celebration and as we were all talking, I realized that they all played a vital role in the upkeep of my mental wellbeing during Covid. They all have become a family of sorts and will always play an important part in who I have become.

Every day leading up to my departure my friends were there every step of the way with me. Whether that was to help me do my last-minute shopping, to hold my hand while I cried about leaving my family, or simply just sitting with me while I was stressing out about everything that I still had to do. They’ve shown me unconditional love and support and it really opened my eyes up to just how strong my support system was. They were and will forever be in my corner cheering me on, and for that, I can never show how thankful I truly am.

And with all the sadness came worry about the ones that I was saying goodbye to.

As my brother and I gave each other one last hug, both of our heads were pulled in the opposite direction, trying to avoid our fresh piercings. He told me he was going to miss me, and I saw the turmoil in his eyes. We’ve never been keen on talking about our feelings and I struggled to reassure the both of us that everything would be okay.

Then came my hardest goodbye. I took my little sister, my baby girl, to the park, and we talked and ate our ramen and tried our hardest to avoid the inevitable. We laid down, in the dark, in the rain, listening to music, holding each other as tight as we could. We felt each other crying which just made us cry even harder. We’ve never been apart for this long, and while it might be good for the both of us, it doesn’t mean that it is going to hurt any less. If I could have just frozen time and stayed there forever there is no doubt in my mind that I would have.

And still, after it all, there was still one left, my mom. I didn’t have the words to express to her how exactly I was feeling. Everyone would always talk about how eager I was to leave home, and I saw how it affected her. I kept coming up with these scenarios in my head to tell her that I would miss her and that I wasn’t taking her or anything else for granted, but every time I would work up the courage to talk to her, something would come up. I just want to let her know that as much as I am excited about this new adventure, I’m just as sad that I couldn’t take her and my sister on it with me. I know that she is happy for me and this amazing opportunity, but that doesn’t stop my worry about leaving home for the first time.

It took me a while to try and write this blog post as I struggled to fully process my feelings. I’ve gone abroad before, and I was nothing but excited. I wasn’t in the best state of mind and felt as if I had nothing tying me down to where I was and didn’t think there was that much of a difference in my life then and now. This mix of emotions, they took me by surprise, but they made me realize something really important. I am okay with where I am at, and I have an amazing support system filled with beautiful people that love me and everything that I am. I am so excited to be studying abroad this semester in Barcelona, Spain, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be sad about the ones I am saying goodbye to.

Hasta pronto

Con amor siempre

Desde Barcelona

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Natalia Salazar

<p>Hi! My name is Natalia Salazar and I am a senior at Purdue University Northwest, double majoring in English and Spanish and minoring in Global Studies. I plan on getting my Masters in Journalism after my undergrad as I would like to pursue international journalism. When I was 15 years old I was given the amazing opportunity of being able to study abroad in Oviedo, Spain for six weeks. This trip absolutely changed my life and gave me a completely different view of what my life could be. Since then I have traveled to Costa Rica and am so excited to return back to Spain. I am beyond excited to be able to share my experience with you!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Purdue University-Calumet
Hammond, IN
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