I’ve been able to witness some magical things over the past six months:
- The fall of snow when I arrived into Switzerland
- The wide array of green in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland
- The bright colours of Portugal
- The smell of coffee on a rainy day in the cafes of Amsterdam
- The incredible details of the cities within Italy and Greece
- The sunset in Santorini
- The feeling of connection to my family’s past in Berlin
- The amazing taste of waffles in Brussels
- The joy and passion of France winning the Euro Cup semi-final in the fan zone under the Eiffel Tower in Paris
- And life in Spain
So I began to write more, and I started a blog to share my experiences as a form of self-expression. I wanted my blog to show the magic and beauty in the places I was lucky enough to visit. But all places have their imperfections and I found that I censored myself more than I intended to, so not every story is shared. Travelling is enriching and a lot of fun, but it can be romanticised. I’m going to gloss over the negatives but they are definitely there – after all, travel is not necessarily the equivalent to running off to a utopia filled with your heart’s desires. Now, I look at it as seeing reality from different points of view. Living abroad has forced me to pick out the flaws of my surroundings. When you visit a place for a few days, generally you want to see it at its best and deal with its’ imperfections only when it is unavoidable.
I arrived home last night and still don’t quite believe that my time in Europe is over. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone from home and sharing my experiences, though I don’t quite know how to summarise the last six months of my life. Maybe I missed out on things or should have done my exchange differently but I hope people understand that I chose to experience it the way that I wanted to. Studying abroad brings different adventures for everyone, but it is also romanticised and not every day was perfect. Living in Spain, I missed Australia and now that I’m back I know that gradually I will miss the freedom I had as a travelling international student. Life is full of paradoxes.
Through my travels and study abroad I met many people who have challenged and shaped my outlook on life for the better and I hope I stay in touch with some of them. To meet people from all over the world with different backgrounds and ideas and learn new things was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had. Thanks to you all if you’re reading 🙂
For the past four weeks I backpacked parts of Western Europe on my own. This in itself is not easy and I’m so proud of myself for having done it. I could write a lot about this on its’ own but maybe another time.
But that’s essentially it for now. The only question left is where to next? (Okay that’s not completely true, there’s also the question of “How long will it take to sort through my suitcase?”)
Featured image from the beach at Tossa de Mar, Spain