I’ve had people come up to me saying how lucky I was to be studying abroad. I’ve been strangled with questions about my life there, the cost of living and their envies of how I can stay away from home for such a long time (it was 6 months); and the most common, “How was Japan?” with the standardized “Alright, kind of cold but I’m glad to be back” reply.
Many people think that living abroad for a semester will be the highlight of their lives, but I guess it wasn’t what I was expecting. Only when I came back home did I realize how blessed I was to be here.
I experienced a sense of loss and gain when I started my semester abroad. I lost all that was important and gained a new understanding of the world and myself. One thing I can tell you – it gets really lonely. You’re put into a situation where you must interact with the people around you and you don’t really get to choose your friends.
The result was many bouts of frustration and anger, at words you never really knew were actually said or not. You don’t really know if they’re just superficial or real, or what they’re actually like since you’ve only gotten to know them for a while. Thinking about what other people said actually cost me a lot more time than you can think of. It hurt my relationships with the people around me and pushing them away seemed to be a constant.
I complained a lot and I was crying almost a few times a week. It was a torturous and arduous six months for never had I felt what I felt when I was back in my home country. I was alone, lost, going through life without any reason for my actions. I didn’t have a hope, a destiny, or a single thought towards life back home. I fell in love, put all my time and energy into that but all it gave me was a lot of crying and selfishness.
Through all that, I found someone. I found a friend – Maria. She guided me from my darkest places and brought life and cheer into my lifeless eyes. When I was having a bad day, she would let me lie on her bed and just whine. She loved me like a sister. This was towards the end of my program and I wasn’t feeling that lonely anymore. I found a true gem in her.
What I’m saying is – when you study abroad, it isn’t going to be a field of roses or a piece of cake. It will take you on a journey of dead fields and moldy cakes; but what I found was that finding someone to confide in took all that pain away. Someone to walk you through and WITH you every step of the way. When you look through the darkness, sunshine comes and whisks all your fears away.