As I write this, it’s November 22 — Thanksgiving Day. I am sitting alone on a hostel bed in Budapest, and all I can think about is the glorious day when I board the plane headed for home. I am supremely grateful for the forces and people and organizations that have given me the chance to study abroad, yet in times of desperation and loneliness, I still question whether I should’ve made the choice to study abroad in the first place.
I’m thinking about all of lifelong friendships I’ve made at Trinity. And during any other normal semester, they’re no more than a five minute walk from me at any time. I’m reminiscing over the fact that my mom made the three-hour drive from Houston when I called her with a bad cold during my first semester away from home. I can’t stop wondering where I’ll be in a year from now — will I have the time or means to make it home for Thanksgiving?
All of this sad, lonesome wondering came from — of all things — a quote I saw on Instagram (and consequently searched for a source, to no avail): “Remember when you wanted what you currently have?”
Maybe it’s that I’m never satisfied with the things I have, that the shiny things that make me so privileged grow dull over time. In the semesters before this, did my jealousy of my peers’ oft-photographed frolics around Europe, city hopping from monument to monument, look so good that I felt unsatisfied with my college experience? Like I haven’t squeezed enough worth out of my private school tuition costs? Was this senior year decision just a last-ditch effort to have my own photo op? Did I think that my memories abroad would somehow be better just because they’re different? (My friend and foreign columnist counterpart, Kara Killinger, explored this desire for documentation wonderfully in our last issue.)
Though I’ve made some friends and had some unforgettable experiences this semester, my ultimate conclusion is that I’d rather have spent my semester making the most of the limited time and freedoms I have left in my college experience. I miss and think about what I’ve left behind more than I actively engage and enjoy experiences abroad.
To those who are considering studying abroad, don’t let this deter you, but try to assess more closely concrete objectives and how you plan on actually achieving them. So, ask yourself — do you actually want the experience of being abroad itself or just the appearance of an enviable experience?