As I sit in my dorm room, wondering whether or not I should get ahead on my readings for next week, I can't help but think of spring break, of the extravagant adventures so many students seem to jet off to. My mind wanders to images of Costa Rica and the active Arenal volcano, images of that one Grecian city I seem to see whenever I open Facebook and the outrageous architecture of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia. As my thoughts end with the picturesque St. Thomas of Villanova church, I remember that while these might be fleeting reprieves from Spanish reading for me, for you the adventure is so real.
As the semester nears its midpoint, I find myself more and more regretful that I did not have the same epiphany you seemed to. To me, studying abroad was scary. It was one thing to be in another state from my home. It's completely different to be in a different time zone, on a different continent and speaking a different language for months on end. I didn't think that was something I would ever become comfortable with, so I retreated to the confines of my 15 ft by 11 ft dorm room. You went for the adventure, and I find myself living vicariously through your snap story updates, Instagram posts and updated Facebook photo albums.
This isn't about me though. It's about you and the wonderful adventure you decided on. Now, I may not know the first thing about what it's like over there for you but forgive me for offering up a bit of my own advice.
Take so many pictures, not only for yourself but for everyone (like me) who lives for your every update. Needless to say, campus isn't the same without you. When you return, I expect a PowerPoint presentation on each and every adventure. but, as I said. This isn't just about me. When I went to Barcelona last spring break, I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked; I relied simply on my memory to preserve the little moments that I've consequently forgotten. Be the person with the camera out. Grab a disposable camera from the nearest convenience store and keep it with you, just in case your phone dies. You'll thank me when you come back, and every detail of your trip is preserved in those ever-present moments.
And I don't just mean little novelty glasses from one of the 18 touristy bodegas on the corner. Explore the city you're in and go down literally every street until you find that one perfect ring shop, nestled between a restaurant and lighting fixture shop. Get something that you would never in a million years get yourself back home. I'm very much a fan of saving money and bargain hunting, but I think this is one experience you'll never be able to relive (unless you fall in love with Lille or Madrid and decide to move there for permanent, in which case, we have to talk about my guest room). So, in the wise, wise words of Tom Haverford, "Treat yo' self"
I don't mean just come back in one piece. Come back with pieces of everywhere you've been. Come back with stories of skydiving in Switzerland, camelback rides in Morocco, Oktoberfest in Munich or recreating the Cheetah Girls' iconic "Strut" music video in Parc Güell in Barcelona. Come back with the most enviable photo album of experiences.
Okay, I know I sound like your mom on this one but trust me. I want you to have the absolute best time abroad, and if you're not doing as well in your classes, that's definitely going to put a damper on your weekend mood. So yeah, go out often, but carve out time in your schedule to study hard. And, although I love studying on campus, you can study in historic cities and really live your best life.
Remember to text
Please. I miss you guys like crazy, and I know I'm not the only one. When my phone lights up with a Snapchat or text message from across the Atlantic Ocean, I don't think words can accurately describe how excited I am. Seeing your stories posted from Lisbon, Galway, Madrid and beyond make me so ridiculously happy and even if I'm one of seven people receiving your daily snap streak, I consider myself lucky to be one of the people you decided to keep in contact with while you're on the adventure of a lifetime.
I hope wherever you're reading this from is absolutely magical. I hope you feel like the main character in a Disney movie. I hope you come back missing your time abroad like crazy. I hope you fall in love three times: with the city, with experience and with yourself. I hope you have so much fun. But most importantly, I hope next time you take me with you.