19 August 2015

anticipation + thoughts // next year abroad

 At this very moment, I'm sitting in a freezing cold waiting room and expect to stay here until my aunt is ready to be driven home. I've been thinking about how I've spent my summer and what lies ahead of me. As I've mentioned before, I have only a short time (14.5 days) left in Richmond VA before I head off to Rennes. It still doesn't feel real, but ever since I started counting down a few days ago I've realized some things that I'm going to attempt to articulate now. 

Firstly, going to Rennes is an incredible opportunity any way you look at it. I get to go to a new school, meet new people, immerse in a new culture and live with a new family, just for starters. Everyone I've spoken to agrees that a year abroad is life changing, and not just for the high points. I expect to face all sorts of new challenges, and become a stronger person for them. Even just dealing with silly things like getting a phone fixed, as I did last summer, without any parents around can be surprisingly educational. This post has the potential to come off sounding cheesy, but please understand I write it with the utmost sincerity. I spent five weeks away from home last summer and even that short time changed my life and outlook dramatically...I can't wait to see what a whole year does. Someone asked me what I plan to do, what I want to get out of it and I honestly think I just want to refine my understanding of life. I think that it's a worthwhile goal independent of living abroad, but I'm glad I have the added incentive to do so. 

Secondly, I've been thinking about the connections I've made at home in Richmond. I've personally always sought independence, almost to the point where it was self-isolation, and this summer helped me find an incredible balance. Knowing that I had only a few months before departing for nine months helped me realize this importance of the people around me. My aunt moved to RVA to be around family, and this summer I finally spent time with her. I didn't do anything extraordinary, just help her move houses and go to the zoo and hang out, but it was so worthwhile. Same thing with babysitting my little cousins all summer...I know them so much better now, and I'm so excited to see what they are up to when I come home from France. My sisters and I connected this summer as well, probably due to my ability to drive us on adventures, and I can honestly say I'll miss their antics while I'm away. Having a near twin (C) was so much fun, and my little nugget S is really incredible. When I come back from France I'll have only a year left to live with them, which is frightening and exciting at the same time. I can remember eating sand with them, and now we're closer to visiting each other's apartments. Lastly, I realized how much I'm going to miss my friends. I used to think friends were just for fun but I've realized there more than anything a support systems wrapped in laughter and good times. I'll miss them like mad while I'm away, and I can't wait to come home to them, but I also realize that France opens the door to incredible new friendships. I know that by the time I come home I'll have a whole new network spread all over the world of incredible people to enjoy. 

I have no idea what the next few months will hold but I think it's safe to say that it will be the biggest adventure of my life, and I am immensely excited and a little nervous. I've tried explaining my thoughts about this to my friends and realized this : I'm sad that I'm leaving here, but I'm glad I'm going there.


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