Finding Beauty in the Mundane

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Roxane Bolon
December 10, 2022
The skyline in Santiago, with high-rise apartment buildings in the background.

I am sitting in the Santiago airport. These are my last few hours in South America. I fly through Miami and then I will be in my hometown, on the same roads and in the same spaces that I have existed in since 2004. I’m thinking about how things wear over time, like your favorite pair of shoes or the spot you put your elbow on your car’s center console. By the time I was 15, my dad’s elbow spot had worn through the leather on his and you could just see the meshy fabric underneath. All that is to say, that doesn’t really happen with places. You can live in a town your whole life, and people and things might come and go, but the essence stays the same. So maybe it’s just you that’s changing, witnessing the same place with a new worldview and perspective. 

Transitions like this are so interesting because I’m going from one temporary home to the next—right back to my second semester senior year, a temporary stop, and then I’m graduating—the nomadic lifestyle of college students has been at an all time high this year. My study abroad experience was so important to me, and now it’s over. In the blink of an eye. So if you’re thinking about studying abroad or really going anywhere new, just remember that it flies by. I didn’t want to miss anything, but it was hard to stay present sometimes and remind myself to look outwards. To stop and smell the roses, to talk to people, to express gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had—or just to eat a croissant and watch people walk by.

On a smaller scale, being present during this time of transition for me has meant focusing on the little things. I find so much beauty in everyday activities, random things I see while walking down a busy street, and I like to ascribe meaning to them even if they’re just another facet of someone else’s daily life. Seeing people do sweet human things when they don’t know that they’re been seen is one of my favorite things. I watched a man pick a receipt up off the ground, sit on the bench, and fold the receipt into a tiny paper crane. He left the crane on the edge of the bench and carried on with his day. Those little things matter because they happen everywhere, all the time, just remnants of people living lives the way they want to.

Returning home is exciting and comforting at the same time. It’ll be funny to transition back to my ways of life in the US, but one of the perfect continuities is that no matter where I go, people do those sweet human things. And although that changes in some ways, in others it is always the same and always has been. I can’t express enough how important those moments were to me, because they reminded me that we’re all pretty much just bopping around on this earth, creating our own purposes and paths together. It’s beautiful to have observed that in another country where things are a little different, and I’m so sad to be leaving a place like this. Like retiring a good pair of shoes, sometimes things have to be over for you to realize how much they really meant to you.

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Roxane Bolon

Hi! I'm Roxane! I'm a rising senior in college and I'm so excited about studying abroad in Argentina. I love travel (duh) and I can't wait to live in a new city. I love most outdoor activities, but my favorites are rock climbing and trail running. My best fun fact is that I hiked a 14,000 foot pass in Peru when I was 14. Or that I can solve a rubik's cube. Those seem pretty equal to me. I'm the youngest of four kids and my three older brothers would probably describe me as energetic and excited! Matcha tea with boba is my favorite drink, so you can definitely find me doodling in a cafe when I'm in Buenos Aires.

Home University:
Lafayette College
Chapel Hill, NC
International Affairs
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