It’s amazing that I am now writing my final blog of my semester abroad.
Time has moved so fast, it feels like only yesterday I was flying out from Brisbane airport, a nervous wreck, terrified of the prospect of spending six months on my own in a foreign country, wondering if I would be able to make friends, if anyone would speak English, if I’d get lost and if I’d even be capable of looking after myself. And now I’m sitting here writing a blog as someone very different to the girl, crying on the plane from Brisbane.
I find myself as an independent young woman, perfectly capable of fending for herself, able to travel to a new country on her own and having no fear in her heart as she navigates the streets with ease. This semester is so hard to summarise into a short blog post, it’s been a semester of firsts, first time on a plane on my own, first time living on my own, first time staying in a hostel etc. and a semester of surprises, I have surprised myself so many times I cannot count, I used to get lost in shopping centres and now I find myself easily navigating the streets of Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Prague, successfully finding out how to get from Maastricht to Dubrovnik, something’s I never thought I could do before.
I came here to find myself, to break through my shyness and anxiety, and even though I will never be the most confident person in the world, I have found myself able to do things I never imagined I could before. I no longer have any problem with making eye contact with my audience during a speech, I’ve started conversations with people I’ve never met before without wanting to run away and most importantly I now have so much more confidence in me and what I can actually do. I’ve also grown not just on a personal level but on a professional one as well, I can now produce a speech in no time at all, as I’ve done so many, and present it as if I’ve practiced it for weeks. I have also gotten really good at reading and summarizing chapters and articles, so that all my notes to study for the exam are prepared as I go, and most importantly I’ve learnt how to really work under pressure.
And although it’s been a journey of terrible lows (homesickness) and crazy highs (Dubrovnik, god I love Dubrovnik), it is only now as I reflect upon my journey that I see that all the stress and the lack of sleep have totally been worth it. Also in my reflections I have realized that this trip has really made me appreciate all the things I have at home, like my fridge, my sofa, signs and labels in English, fly screens (seriously Europe install fly screens), cheddar cheese, and home cooked meals (I am literally dying for one of my Mum’s curry’s or Roast dinners or Dad’s cooked brunch on the BBQ). And most importantly I appreciate my family, like being able to complain to Mum when something annoys me, having Dad tease me about something stupid before making a terrible pun and watching my brother squirm as I give him an unwanted hug. Overall this trip has probably been the toughest six months of my life and the best, and although I will be sad to leave, I am so glad that I took the leap of faith and decided to come to this wonderful Maastricht. I think it fitting to end this, my final blog, with a quote:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”