There’s a Rumi saying that goes, “Travel brings power and love back into your life,” and I think that no other saying is more applicable to what I have experienced the past four months.
I needed this semester away from Penn, and I have little to no regrets about my time here in Spain. I definitely think that I could have spent the year here as long I was able to do what I’m doing now which is going home for the holidays. But in reality I know that if I did that I most likely would not graduate on time and as much as I love Europe and Spain…I do very much want my degree.
I would recommend study abroad to anyone who is considering it. And if you’re not considering it I would recommend that you at least do that much, because it has been the best decision I have made for myself possibly in my entire life thus far. We all grow through different versions of ourselves as we get older and my last semester at Penn — I was not happy with the version of myself that I was. A few grades that didn’t pan out as I had expected, some disputes with friends occurred and I found myself rethinking many of the goals and decisions I had made. However, the version of myself I found throughout this semester is much stronger, and more me than any version of myself I’ve been before. That is to say, Spain helped me grow into myself.
The time here has allowed me to realign who I am with the vision of myself I have for the future and I think I needed to do that outside the context of Penn. Don’t get me wrong I have missed not seeing my friends, family and my roommate, but not having the same workload gave me more time to focus on me. I came to Europe excited to be away from the day to day routine I had over the summer and at Penn, and lusting for travel opportunities I wasn’t sure I would get again. I leave Spain and Europe with a deeper understanding of who I am, what I want to do, and a conceptual idea of how I want to get there. Not to mention the stories, memories, and friendships that I have formed. I leave much happier, with a wider view of the world and deeper understanding of the things that matter. I leave more towards the Victoria Gillison that I want to be.
Times here were far from perfect — as nothing is perfect. But they were more than I could have ever imagined. Slowing down in Spain gave me the time to do the things that I always tell myself I’ll get around to doing: journaling, meditation, taking time for myself etc. This is not to say I don’t think I would have never learned these lessons should I have stayed at Penn this semester — but I think I was supposed to learn them now. And I know that when I’m back in that day to day I can remind myself of the times here and know what’s it’s like to be out of that Penn bubble. Moreover, I can take the things I’ve prioritized here and bring them back to Penn for the astonishingly short 1.5 years I have left there.
People are undoubtedly going to ask what I will miss about Sevilla and Spain and it will be hard to put it in to words then (as it is now), but I will just miss the way of life here (and everything that includes). There are things that I never got used to and there are things that I don’t think I would ever get used to in the lifestyle here (no matter how long I stayed). But the people are nice, the pace is slow and lifestyle is unique.
I don’t think study abroad is meant for everyone but it believe that travel is. And I think that Rumi’s words were true in my case. Study abroad allowed me time to find love in the little things, to feel power over my own life, and find both love and power within myself.
This will almost definitely be my last post from abroad. I will disconnect the automatic notifications to my Facebook for when I publish things — but I will continue to publish every now and then when something comes up, so continue to check every so often if you wish. But as they say, for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.
Happy Holidays everyone!