I’m just going to say it plainly: last week was hard. I cried, I stressed, I struggled. There were a lot of factors going into this (I pulled a muscle in my back which freaked me out, I said goodbye to my family on Monday, and school was giving me a run for my money). I found myself looking at the calendar counting my weeks left here, and wishing there were less of them. I hopelessly daydreamed about summer and getting to see my friends and family. 

It was hard.

If you struggle with anxiety then you know that once the first wave crests, it’s only a matter of time before the tide picks up. At times, calming down and taking those deep breaths seemed impossible. It’s ironic, almost. If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I was in Umbria last weekend seeing the biggest waterfall in Europe. 

And I looked happy!

I was. But I also wasn’t. Now I’m on Monday of the next week. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. I’m not regretful of my nasty week, they’re inevitable. But I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to decompress and drain myself of that anxiety. 

After all, this week is my spring break! I’m headed to London to visit my Hope friends. I’m getting a tattoo this week. I have six days straight off of school. We are truly in the home stretch. 

When you’re abroad and you’re feeling shaken or lost, the biggest mistake you can make is not reaching out to friends and family. I struggled with feeling like an immature baby last week. It felt so stupid that I was homesick and stressed out, espcially when everyone around me seems to be having the time of their lives. Nobody at home thinks that, though. Nobody thinks I’m incapable of this. 

I watched a movie with my roommate from Hope and even just texting each other our jokes and reactions felt like a hot pad on my wound. Calling my dad and listening about his day helped to ground me and bring me back to the real world. 

Beyond that, it’s okay to lean on your new friends, too. I know I’ve seen most of my friends here cry and they’ve seen me do the same. 

The moral of all of this is really simple: When you fall during your time abroad––and you will––it is more than possible to pick yourself back up and continue to fall in love with your host city. 

(And quickly, a note for you, who might want to get a tattoo while abroad. Remember that we are used to tattoo shops that vary in price but follow the same US sanitation laws. Your host country might not have these laws, meaning it can be dangerous to get a tattoo from just anyone. Do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask or DM any tattoo shops or artists you’re interested in!) 

Published by kathrynsmith

Class of 2023 Communications Major, Writing and Theatre Double Minor IES Rome, Italy

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