This semester so far has been absolutely fantastic. I think I can honestly say it’s the happiest I’ve ever been here at Chapel Hill. I really enjoy every one of my classes, I have such genuine and close friendships and I feel like I’ve finally figured out how to keep things in perspective and maintain balance between school, work, a social life, and just being the person I want to be and giving myself down time.
The cool thing is I really attribute a lot of that to my travels over the summer. It’s funny because as soon as I got back from traveling, my immediate thought was “OK, where am I going next and how can I make that happen.” That kind of freaked me out and frustrated me in a way because I had just gotten back from what I knew was an INCREDIBLE journey and I couldn’t be happy with it for what it was – I had to keep looking forward to the next thing. It wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t necessarily pushing myself to go abroad in the Spring that I noticed I had gained a huge new appreciation for what it is that I have here (and maybe it just took a little while for everything to sink in). This was so great to notice because every single semester I have been itching to get out – around november freshman year I was looking into flights to go to Ireland, sophomore year I was dying to pick up and go to the Grand Canyon and later planned this whole big Euro trip. This semester, I’ve been so appreciative of the fact that I am in Chapel Hill surrounded by incredible people and barely thought about leaving until the study abroad deadline was a week away and I realized I better get my stuff together because it would be something I’d never regret. And so with that… IM GOING TO SYDNEY! And I couldn’t be more pumped! I’m going through Boston University and will be taking classes and interning and I already know that It will be the experience of a lifetime. Plus, it really feels right…like in the pit of my stomach. I know i vacillated between a multitude of places, starting with Europe, moving to South East Asia, ultimately deciding on New Zealand and then just applied to Sydney instead. But I really feel like I know this is the right move.
Another thing that traveling really gave me is a good sense of the person that I am. I think that growing up in itself forces you to figure that out but I really used to feel like I’d naturally adapt my personality to the people I was around. While they weren’t drastically different, I had a New Hyde Park personality, a Chapel Hill personality, etc. While traveling, I had no one to rely on but myself and met a whole new slew of people every single day. All of that was just too much to do while also trying to fit in or impress anyone so I didn’t. I just did what was normal and natural without over thinking and slowly realized that I was consistently me (if that makes any sense at all when said outside my own head). At any rate, it gave me a sense of comfort in my own skin and rootedness (if that’s a word) that I never felt before and I’m grateful for it. While I don’t feel the compelling need to start over and seek new places and people as much anymore, I realize that moving and starting over doesn’t have to be difficult and I’m sure this lesson will positively contribute to my experience abroad.
I recently read a quote by Rumi – “Travel brings love and power back into your life.” I feel like this explains it all. I have an entirely renewed sense of appreciation for all the people and places I love, an even more optimistic perspective on possibilities, some direction, a better understanding of who I am and what I want out of my life and a broader understanding of the big, beautiful world we live in. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and experience and i can’t wait to see what Sydney has in store!