What do we make of our marvelous, majestic four month journey through a new part of the world?
I was scrolling through my Instagram archives, marveling at the surreal images I have seen and captured throughout my abroad experience. I could not believe that my own eyes saw those things—I could not believe that my body inhabited those spaces. And I wondered, what do I do with these beautifully preserved images? How do I make them more than just photographs on my Instagram or scrambled memories in my heart?
I quickly realized that the solution is that there is no stopping here. The butterflies after that climb and this hike, or that meal and this encounter, are not finite even if they are restricted to the specific location they occurred in. The experiences I had were amazing because each and every person who came before me left a small piece of themselves and their story. I have to continue to do the same, going places and leaving parts of myself in exchange for something new. It’s not a matter of committing to ostentatious, extensive trips – I do not yet have those resources myself. It’s a matter of finding ways to do so even if it’s going to a new neighborhood over the summer in New York City, or going into Boston more and choosing one new free site to see each time. The commitment to feeding your wanderlust—your desire to see, to hear, to feel, to wonder—doesn’t end with this beautifully encrusted four months. Instead, it begins. It initiates a process of learning, re-learning, asking, and not being afraid to do now and ask questions later.
In short, the end of abroad does not have to be somber. It can be the culminating moment of an endless catalyst of adventure. So go home, rest, grab your favorite food you’ve been deprived of, enjoy your returned 4G, print out your photos and hang them on your wall, and plan your next adventure—it doesn’t have to be extensive or extravagant. It’s about locating space to be present, to move, to see something new and to meet someone different. Commit to recording and presently experiencing the beauty of every new journey you embark on, and your abroad journey will never actually end.