The feelings I had leaving the Galapagos were different than any I’ve had before when leaving a place. Here I was, in paradise, surrounded by some of the most amazing people I have ever met, surrounded by countless memories, and saying my goodbyes. In some ways it felt like we had just arrived, and in other ways it felt like a lifetime had gone by since that day. It sounds silly to say, but the island had truly come to feel like my home, and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it that I was leaving one home to return to another. The last few days passed in a mixture of excitement and sadness, as we watched our final sunsets and said goodbye to the islands.
The last night we had on San Cristobal, some friends and I decided to go see the stars at the beach one last time, and thank the islands and each other for the time we had. We sat in a circle, and talked about all the things that we had learned and gained from our experience here. We all could easily name so many ways that our eyes had been opened to see the world in a different light, or how we had discovered a new confidence in ourselves that we didn’t quite know was there before. Most of all though, we had so much to thank the islands for. They had provided us with a home away from home, a place to learn, to grow, and to experience much more than we could have imagined in coming to the Galapagos.
As the plane took off and I watched the island disappear through the clouds, there was a part of me that felt it was being ripped away. I left behind people and places that I care about deeply, and without any guarantee that I will have the opportunity to return. But overall, when I looked down and watched my home away from home fade away, I felt content. I left knowing that I lived every moment of my time there as fully as I could. I chased every opportunity and welcomed every new experience and became closer to the type of person that I aspire to be. I was able to abandon most of what was familiar and safe to me for a new life, and I fell in love with it. Sitting on that plane (I won’t pretend that there weren’t lots of tears) I knew that my study abroad experience had turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more. And I can’t say that I didn’t have things to look forward to at home (like baths and Trader Joes). Now that I am back the United States, I am faced with the fact that no matter how hard they try; no one will really be able to understand the experience I had. And there is certainly no way I can adequately explain it to them. All I can do is try my best to share what I’ve learned, and dream of my return to San Cristobal.
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<p>My name is Peyton, and I could not be more excited to study abroad. I love all things adventure, including hiking, surfing and skiing whenever I get the chance. I have had the travel bug ever since I spent a summer in Spain when I was in high school. I fell in love with the people, places and culture I encountered, and have not stopped chasing that feeling ever since.</p>