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(ABroad)ening My Mind

It has taken me time since returning to the United States to really think on all of the experiences I have had over the last few months. In general, it has been a lot to take in. Going from a European country that slowly but surely became my home back to the life I had known before is a culture shock all of its own. I needed some time before trying to wrap up my feelings on it all.

Trying to reconcile the version of myself I was before going to London and the person I am now has been a strange experience. Back in my home state, I see reminders of the things I was doing and the thoughts I had before I left. I went back and read my first blog post yesterday, and it was strange to see that time capsule of myself. If only that Annie knew all that I know now, how truly excited she would be to embark on her adventure.

People are constantly evolving. I know some people like to say that people don’t change, that we’re always intrinsically the same, and for some few that may be true. But most people are shaped by things they do and people they know. There is so much going on in the world, I think it is nearly impossible to not be molded and be constantly re-molding oneself. In my life, I know I have already been several different versions of myself, and my time in London certainly shifted me again.

I’m not sure I’ve ever quite evolved so much in such a short amount of time. Going abroad can be terrifying– you’re suddenly thrown in a new environment, with totally new people, new everything. All of that new, though, undoubtedly changes a person. It makes you more easily able to shift into new scenarios, embrace other cultures, communicate with others, and those are just a few qualities I have picked up. Each person’s experience is completely unique.

After coming home, it has been hard to properly describe what being abroad has been like. In some ways, I think it can only be truly understood through an experience of it. I will say, though, that it is a time in my life I would never take back. It’s the sort of experience I would beg someone to take for their own sake. It is something I will look back on in the future with reverence and sentimentality.

Abroad has helped broaden my mind, but it has also helped me come into my own. I feel more confident in myself and my ability to navigate in this world. I feel more ready for the everything life has ahead of me because I know I can take it on. Studying in London was a once in a lifetime event, so special it now has its own little corner in my heart.

So, thank you abroad for helping to shape me into what I believe to be a stronger version of myself. Thank you for giving me so many wonderful people, joy-filled moments, and new knowledge. I will think fondly of you always.

Until next time, with all my love, Annie.