I knew from a young age that I always wanted to travel and visit all the places on the old globe my granddad had in his den. I would see pictures of my family members in different parts of the country and of the world and knew that I would want to see these places too…. But I had no idea that I would actually one day be able to travel all the places I’m going to now.
I’m starting to realize, now, how many perfect little things needed to fall in place for my whole study abroad experience to happen. I mean, sure a lot of my friends have had the opportunities to go abroad, but still so many more haven’t. I was fortunate enough to be able to study a new language and have the preparation to go to a new country. I had the right, affordable program with my university. I had financial aid from my university and my parents. I had friends before me who went abroad and shared their experience and knowledge with me. I had the opportunity to take classes outside of my university and still be on track to graduate.
Like literally so many perfect things fell into place to give me this once and a lifetime experience and I can never be more thankful for the path that’s brought me here.”
– March 2014, Barcelona
This was written after meeting up with a high school teach and mentor of mine in Barcelona. She had studied at the University of Barcelona through the same program as me, and was currently taking a group of high school students on a spring break tour through Western Europe.
I remember resenting the fact that I could not afford a European vacation while I was in high school. I scrolled through the Facebook and MySpace pictures, of my friends in front of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, swimming in the Mediterranean, throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain like Lizzie McGuire, and eating tapas in Madrid. Meanwhile, I sat at home wishing that I could be as lucky as them to travel the world.
While I never went on that spring break trip, I was able to study abroad and tour through Europe for over six months and exploring new cities, countries, and cultures each weekend. My time in abroad was not meant to be a high school trip, but a college adventure.
Yet, until I made it abroad, I spent so much of my time and energy being angry about what I didn’t have. I was living in the past and ignoring everything that was in my present.
While abroad, I came to realize that in life, there would be trips that I would never be able to take, memories that I would never be able to make, and people that I would never have the pleasure of meeting. And you know what? That’s okay.
There are so many other opportunities and doors that will open up that can help you to create even greater memories. There are many opportunities in life for every single person, and trust me, without a doubt, a beautiful moment- a perfect moment will present itself to you.
It doesn’t have to be large, and it doesn’t have to look spectacular. It won’t always be handed on a silver platter to you, and if it’s worth it you’re going to have to work hard to follow it through. But when it does arrive, you have to embrace it, live it, and create some pretty awesome moments.
Because, if we could do every single thing that we wanted, nothing would be fun or rewarding. That trip to Paris wouldn’t be as special, that night dancing in the streets of Sitges would be less “once-in-a-lifetime” and that plate of paella would just be a normal dinner dish. In life we have to wait and work for things, and above all else- let everything fall into place.
And trust me, it’s an incredibly humbling moment to realize when everything has in fact fallen into place and you’re living in your dreams. Until this meeting in Barcelona, I hadn’t even realized my moment had arrived. I had no idea how blessed I was to have people on my side, helping me get abroad even past high school, whether it be friends helping me learn about the places I would be traveling, my parents helping me pay for school or my grandparents giving me that extra support, saying that they believed that I could do anything I wanted. But with this simple dinner in Barcelona, I knew that I had so many people to thank and so many blessings to count.
So, what do you do until your moment arrives? Live.
Don’t sit on your couch wishing you could be abroad again with your friends, scrolling mindlessly through Instagram photos. Go outside, explore your local city, and save up for another trip. Cherish your friends and family while they are close by. Take advantage of university if you are a student, and participate in every school-spirited activity while you can.
Be in the moment, and be grateful for everything that had to fall perfectly into place to get you where you are now. Say thank-you, work hard, and smile because life is pretty amazing.