Going abroad is the best thing that will ever happen to you. It is also the worst.
Going abroad changes you. It takes you to places you never imagined and introduces you to people you never thought you would meet. It brings you out of your homogenous bubble of familiarities and releases you into the wilderness of the unknown. It peels back the layers of the only self you have known and disposes of its fruitless excess. It wraps your imagination in possibilities and breathes excitement into lifeless limbs. It readjusts your grip on control and brims the soul over with curiosity.
Going abroad changes your perspective. It takes your existing knowledge and extends it to the smallest corners of the world. It forces you to try new things, act like a fool, and make mistakes on repeat. It teaches you to be more teachable. You learn to learn more deeply. Specifically about everything and anything that doesn’t waste your time. It narrows your mind on the passions that fuel your greatest fires. It broadens your thinking by assuring you there is always a different way to go about a single thing. It puts people in your path whom you grow to love without preference.
It puts you in other people’s paths who love you without preference. It pushes you to question these preferences and catalyzes your pursuit of peace. It takes you far away from every influence in your life, just so you can return to these influences one day with a new influence inside you.
Going abroad breaks your heart. It removes you from the ones you love most just to leave new loved ones four months later. It uncovers your deepest priorities and rearranges them accordingly in the process. It takes you to a mental lost & found, where you reclaim the things you don’t even remember losing. It makes you more upset, however, that you forget you were missing them in the first place. It releases the entanglement of a subpar life and gives you the strength to shape it into the one you want.
It plunges you into freezing waters even when no one else dares to enter with you. It strengthens your embrace of depravities while reminding you they exist in the first place. It gives you a taste of fantasy and snaps you back to reality quickly after. It leaves you with the aroma of adventure long after it is no longer there. It hastens your urgency to explore the unseen but cannot sustain the infinite paths you want to travel forever.
Going abroad deepens your sense of purpose. It rings loudly of God’s sovereign ways and situates you in the front row of His perfect promises. It lets you get lost in superficial wants so you can cling to the one who provides for your deepest needs. It rips you of your pride and dresses you with the encouragement of friends who see you for your heart. It keeps you alone to your thoughts so you can rest on the one whose thoughts are higher than yours in the first place.
Going abroad is the best thing to ever happen to you. But it is also the worst. You will never regret a single moment of your time spent dwelling among a new culture, unless you fail to grasp the fullness of what it has to offer for you there. But four months later when your soul remains unsteady on the rainbow streets of Copenhagen and your two feet have stepped foot into the U.S., you realize it was almost… like a dream. And the sad thing about dreams is that they are usually never true.
But when such a dreamlike state has the power to shake your preconceived notions about everything from Salzburg to Sydney, you can know it was real. And you can continue to make this life real wherever you wander for the rest of your days.