These last few weeks have been all about handling things. I had administrative problems, many readings and assignments, but many great and fun moments too! Many is the key word here, especially when you feel it’s getting to be too much. The first paragraph has my first thoughts on the topic, and the second is what I wrote after coming back to it.
Don’t wait til you have enough time, til you are in a good shape or mood, til you are fine, til you have the energy…or you won’t do anything except the things you have to do and it will eat you alive. Go out as soon as you have the opportunity, be opportunistic, say “yes, let’s do this” and see where it leads you even if it ends up at Domino’s Pizza or eating garlic pasta or a birthday chocolate cake at 3 in the morning (does it always end up with food?! I guess so…) Go out even if it’s just out of your room to talk to your roommates who just got home, out of your apartment to the library to study, to try out for a sport you never played before, on a hike even if it’s raining… Because you may end up laughing after a bad day, meeting a friend in the most boring moment, actually joining the softball team, seeing incredible landscape that take your breath away…etc. All of those things will be the ones that put your life together eventually, that give you energy, that make you happy despite everything else.
Well, I still agree with all of that, it’s a mantra to always keep in mind and try to follow every time you can but that’s not that easy. The thing is you can’t ignore what you have to do and if you don’t take time for these things, they will stick to you like gum under your shoes… and nobody likes that feeling! All is a question of balance but I have to admit I struggle to find it. The perk of studying abroad is that you constantly have to choose between exploring, enjoying, making the best out of everything and settling, studying, doing the normal stuff of everyday life. It’s like you’re on holidays in some overexciting place and in your regular habitat at the same time and sometimes it drives me crazy. I’m constantly running out of time and it stresses me out. I realize that this experience is full of pressure: pressure to become bilingual, pressure to enjoy yourself every minute of every day, pressure to see everything around you, to do everything you want, to meet and to know everyone and also to succeed. That’s too much! I know this is not what people expect to hear (or more accurately what they expect to read), because as soon as you begin to talk about the other side of the mirror they think you are sad, angry, homesick, unhappy, or negative. But, you can’t be, you have no right to be, because you’re lucky to be here. Yes, I know. Pressure again.
I’m happy and I’m grateful. Everyday I try to see the positive side of things (more than I usually did in France). That’s just the truth, because when a dream comes true, it’s not a dream anymore. It becomes reality, which we embrace. Let go of all your made up ideas about studying abroad: this is not a perfect dream, this is a life experience. The problem is that when you dreamed about something for such a long time, you often overthink it. I did and I still do. You can miss the living part if you’re not patient, and if you want everything right away. It’s impossible to be everywhere doing everything with everybody, unfortunately. I have to let go of all these pressures that I put on myself and relax. Yes, I’ll miss things, but what’s important is how I will feel about it in the future: bad about what I didn’t do or good about what I did instead?
I have a friend who always asks me: “what will you remember in 10 years?” I think this is a good way of thinking because it pushes you to go out and explore. But is it always good to constantly think about your future self thinking about your past self?! That’s a lot of thinking and I’ve already enough of it with my present self. So what about saying “feel the moment” instead of “enjoy the moment”. And if it feels good or if it feels right, then that’s where you need to be, not thinking about it, just living it.
Alice Poyet (France)