I began dreaming of my college study abroad semester pretty early on in my high school Spanish classes (what else would have motivated me to get through all those “preterite versus imperfect” lectures?). During Hope prospective student visit days, I sat front row at every off-campus study info session, stored away all the pamphlets, and talked to countless students about their experiences abroad. When I arrived at Hope in Fall 2014, I plotted out my 4-Year Plan based entirely upon my semester abroad. However, when it came time to actually make the plans a reality, fear and anxiety crept in. It wasn’t that I lost the desire to go abroad, but rather that I didn’t want to leave Hope for a semester.
Clearly, events occurred that changed my mind, because here I am writing from Chile. I can confidently say that I am exactly where I am supposed to be– being challenged, humbled, and left in wonder by this new home of mine. However, I will break the myth that every day abroad is as much of an adventure as an Instagram picture or blog post may convey.
This past weekend at Hope was Orientation Weekend. Having been a part of the Orientation Staff for the past two years and loving freshman orientation myself, it has been incredibly difficult to miss out on the best weekend of the year. Flipping through all the Instagrams and Snapchats, the reality hits that life goes on without you. When your friends are all moving in together and reuniting after summers apart, you’re not a part of the group texts to meet up at New Holland, Captain Sundae, or a Lake Michigan sunset. No matter how much we glorify FaceTime and Skype to keep us connected, nothing adequately compensates for the 10,000 miles of distance that exists.
Amidst the FOMO, I am reminded of the gift it is to have a place and people to miss. I would not trade this adventure abroad for anything– even for my long-awaited senior year fall semester at Hope. As I write this, I fear that this is just the beginning of the FOMO. There will be an abundance of things to miss out on, and plenty more anticlimactic days abroad. However, when I allow myself to sit in that ache to be with the people that know me the best and in the place that I feel the most at home, I am grateful to carry that sense of belonging with me. Best of all, it’s what will welcome me home in just a few months!