It didn’t hit me until I saw a new class of students this week that I am a senior. Me. I finally made it to this point. There’s a tradition at Dickinson that if you step on the College seal that is conveniently placed right in the center of one of the most walked locations on campus, you won’t graduate.
In 2015, I walked on top of the seal and could see and hear shocked people and quickly realized that I had made a mistake. I take superstitions a little too seriously – but here I am starting my fourth year and it feels so good. Rewind time just 12 months and I was not coming back to campus, rather I had my bags packed and an overweight carry on ready to embark on the greatest experience of my life.
If I haven’t been clear before:
I studied abroad. FOR EIGHT MONTHS. The thing is: I’m not going to talk about how cultured and worldly I am because I’d rather talk about the ups and downs about study abroad to help the next person going abroad because Instagram posts will tell you how amazing someone’s visit to Rome was but won’t tell you that their Airbnb room had gypsies around the corner and bugs flying in the living room the entire time (fact: this actually happened to me).
They won’t tell you about how a group of students got together to shit talk you when you were at one of the lowest points of your abroad experience. Feelings of homesickness fled your mind, while you wrapped your head around how to continue having a great experience while trying to make new friends since the ones you just made first semester didn’t stick around for the year. Or maybe you were facing a financial situation that prevented you from doing fun things and everyone went without you (rightfully so) and you still felt shitty about it.
Or maybe you might face the best one of all: your professors aren’t supportive of you or your decisions. Maybe they won’t care about your mental health and maybe they might even tell you “to go see a therapist because [they] don’t care about your personal problems”. This has been the most difficult part of my experience. Although I came back from abroad, I’m still dealing with situations from the past and it makes me feel less excited for what’s to come.
Now that I’m back on campus (and have been for almost three months) I am excited to promote my program for everything it did give me and to bring light to things that one might face. Not many people will ask me about the worst parts of abroad (which is good).
So back to normal like I said? Probably not – I have changed as a result of my experience. But I am excited to come back and make a difference for all of the students who don’t know that they’ll face the low points of abroad and to allow them to speak up because social media doesn’t allow us to – so are we really better connected?
To make things a little more lighthearted: here is a link on things to do/places to go in Bologna if you’re planning a trip there soon.
In bocca al lupo!