As I open Snapchats from my friends currently studying abroad, I can't help but feel a sharp pang of jealousy. That should have been me. I was supposed to be in Copenhagen with them. Instead, I'm stuck here in boring, old Houston carrying on the same boring, old daily routines and drudging through every second of the day in regret.
Not studying abroad this semester has been one of the biggest mistakes I've made. I came into college with the notion that I was going to study abroad. I studied abroad in Russia for a summer during high school and it was one of the most unforgettable memories I've ever had. It was thrilling and terrifying and amazing. The vulnerability of walking in a completely strange and different environment was stimulating and forced me to introspect and revise my knowledge of the world. In retrospect, I'm not exactly sure why I did it or what to do with the experiences I had there, but never for one second did I regret it.
I originally planned to study abroad but allowed certain fears and inconveniences, which I now realize were stupid and mostly fabricated, discourage me. I felt obligated to my research position and extracurricular activities and felt guilty about leaving them. In my mind, I invented these barriers and convinced myself that these groups wouldn't be happy with my leaving and that it was difficult for me to go this semester. An even worse excuse, I felt too shameful to ask a professor to write my recommendation letter because I had hardly connected with any of them. I had one (who definitely knew who I was but not much more) in mind, but I let my pride and cowardice get in the way.
Now, I'm living the consequences and enduring another semester just like the past five. Sure, I love being at Rice and I still am surrounded by most of my friends, but I've been a little burned out by the same routines I've done for the past few years and I can barely think of anything to look forward to this semester. With three of my close friends abroad, I sense a large chunk of my (rather small) social circle missing. To add salt to the wound, living at home and temporarily not being able to drive (another story), both consequences of remaining here, has detached me from social life on campus as well. My remaining friends try their best to inspire me, but the remorse is overwhelming.
As others have told me, no one has ever regretted studying abroad and people have only regretted not studying abroad. I can now add my testimony to that statement. I've learned my lesson and perhaps someone reading this can learn from it as well. If you have even the slightest interest in studying abroad, DO IT.
For the time being, I guess I can only make the best of my mistake and live vicariously through my friends' Snapchats.