37 days ago I left to what I thought would just be a blissful month of
studying galavanting around Europe.
30 days later I returned home with something close to 27 hours of traveling behind me, and a changed life.
I know how cliche that sounds- “It was a life-changing trip”. But seriously. Besides my traveling outfit (as proved by the photos above), much of my entire being was changed. I discovered things about myself that I would have never had anywhere else or in any other situation.
I’ve been dreaming of a Study Abroad since I first saw a globe, and it’s been part of my ‘plan’ for the past 17 years. However, I NEVER expected it to happen how and when it did. And now after returning home, I can’t believe that I did it. I went on a Study Abroad. Looking back it seems like it was such a spur-of-the-moment and virtually thoughtless decision, but I know 789% that it was exactly what I meant to do this summer. I am in complete awe in what has transpired over the past month in myself and in my life. I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity! I am so glad I racked up 20 years worth of spontaneity to spend it all on the decision to accept the offer to represent Utah State University (only the most blessed place on this planet) in Europe!
One of the biggest realizations I’ve had since returning home is the immense amount of love and support I received while abroad, and how much I’ve received home as well. I had absolutely NO idea how many people were reading my blog, checking up on me with my parents, facebook stalking, and keeping tabs on me while away. I couldn’t be more blessed with those surrounding me! So THANK YOU!
Now obviously, after such an excursion such as this one, the most commonly heard phrase in your daily life is something similar but not limited to: “So tell me about your trip…” followed by the awkward pause while I try to decipher if they want the ‘Gone With the Wind’ version, the ‘Reader’s Digest’ version, the simplified ‘Great!’ response, or the thought process of ‘Do they really want to know, or are they just being nice?’. But how do you tell people that by looking at a piece of marble in the ruins of the Roman Forum left you speechless by the history it once saw? Or that learning how to slackline from Viennese locals opened your mind to what the college experience is like internationally? Or that by saying ‘Grace’ with a family from Tampa in Rome and attending a mass in the Duomo in Florence could thrill you in the fact that you’re trying something totally new, but makes you completely in love with what you were given before? Or by watching a 72 year, old non-english speaking, Italian couple prepare their house for a family dinner could be so overwhelmingly humbling? Exactly- you just can’t.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of myself. My mother didn’t even get to Disneyland when she was 19. Here I am, at the same age, and I successfully got myself around Europe for a month, and independently planned, scheduled, navigated, and lead myself and two other girls around Italy for 10 days. Unfortunately though, it only planted what my family likes to call the ‘traveling bug’ deeper within me.
Some of the biggest lessons I learned are the ones I least expected to learn through this experience. Getting to know each and everyone one of these girls (and Alan and his family) taught me more than a degree ever could. Mostly, I really learnt what USU has done for each of them and to see that it truly has a place for everyone and is here to change lives. I’ve never been such a proud Aggie! I really learned that wherever the gospel is, home is there too. I realized that my family is the best support group, and I especially learnt to cherish the memories I have had with them through all our travels. I learnt that people are by far the most fascinating thing in this solar system- I literally spent days talking to people. And I absolutely adored every single second of it. The stories I heard, the lessons they taught me, the lives they had lived, and the experiences they had awed me each step of the way.
This world is so large, but so small; and there is still so much I have to learn from it!
Peace out Europe! Until we meet again!