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Practicing Gratitude While Abroad

April 8, 2019

My friends at home and I have a ritual we do after we’ve spent the day hanging out, where we’ll ask each other our gratitudes for the day. We’ll go around saying what we’re thankful for that day, with answers ranging from the silly to very heartfelt. I like this little pause in the day to reflect on what makes me happy, even if it is a little cheesy. This practice of reflecting on the positives is something I’ve tried to implement into my daily routine while abroad.

The weeks have flown by since moving to Berlin, and one reason is because of the excessive amounts of traveling I’ve been doing. In the past three weeks, I’ve been to Amsterdam, Copenhagen and two cities in Poland—Warsaw and Wroclaw. I’ve left class on a Thursday afternoon and gone straight to the airport to catch a flight. Any seasoned traveler knows the annoying number of things that can go wrong when flying, and luckily, I have avoided any big disasters like missed or cancelled flights. But I have spent a lot of time waiting in lines for security, having minimal leg room on cramped flights and wandering around unknown airports attempting to find a way into the city center.

It is easy to get annoyed by these small inconveniences, but instead of falling into a pattern of complaining, I focus on how lucky to have the opportunity to travel. When I’m waiting in a long security line, I remind myself that I could be sitting in class at my college at home. Yeah, I’ve had to wake up at 4 a.m. to catch a few flights, but because of my early wakeup time, I’ve seen the sunrise more times in the past month than in the past year. This change in attitude has made me happier overall, since I’m spending more energy having fun than being annoyed.

Having the opportunity to catch a flight in Berlin and land in a new country in under an hour is exhilarating. I even pause to reflect when I am doing smaller-scale things, like trying new restaurants in Berlin or sitting in the park reading. Study abroad sometimes feels like a break from real life, since I’ve had the most free time of my college career since moving to Berlin. Complaining makes me feel like I’m wasting the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that study abroad offers. So instead of being annoyed by waiting in lines, I put on my headphones, say my gratitude for the day, and look forward to my next adventure.

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