Overall, I look back on my time abroad fondly. I traveled to places I had always dreamed of going, made great friends (people with whom I’ve kept in touch despite the distance) and I grew in more ways than I ever thought possible. But more on that later.
My study abroad experience was all of these really great things, but I’d never call it easy. As an introvert, it took a lot of energy for me to rack up the courage to talk to new people, and then fast forward to friendships with people I felt like I’d just met. I’ve also written about my experience getting my phone stolen in a completely foreign city – definitely not the ideal situation! But these challenges taught me valuable lessons that are still presenting themselves in new ways, even two years later. I learned resilience, self-sufficiency and stillness; I learned that I am capable of more than I ever imagined I was.
In a single semester, I learned how to adapt to a brand-new environment – something that should sound oddly familiar right now. As we all settle into our “new normal,” I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had that have prepared me to adapt to this new situation, and make the best of things when they feel really out of control.
This doesn’t negate the fact that there are sad times, and really, really hard situations to navigate in our futures… only that there are glimpses of joy in everything, and that we are capable of noticing them, even when it’s hard.
As for me, I’m off to read a book and drink my coffee on my front lawn. If I close my eyes, it feels like the Parisian cafes that I loved so dearly. À bientôt !
Abigail Haley is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Paris, France, during the Fall 2018 semester. She is currently a student at Ithaca College.
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