Study Abroad: When the Little Moments Become the Big Ones

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If you’re a junior in college, it may feel like everyone is abroad besides you. If you are abroad, it may feel like everyone else is copying your idea of taking a vacation from life for 4 months. If you’re not a junior, it’s a period of living vicariously through Instagram photos and constant Facebook posts. 

There are tons of reasons for making the life decision to study abroad. It may seem like it has become a mainstream thing, but spending a semester in a foreign country is a big commitment, and a huge deal. Even if you’re surrounded by familiar faces like I am with Marist Italy, it’s still a major culture shock. New languages, new places, new food. But along with all of the unknowns come the amazing food, amazing languages, and amazing places. If you mix those three together, you get experiences that really do only come once in a lifetime. It really is the part where you find out who you are, what you’re made of, and who you want to be. 

So here it is. The REAL reason you should study abroad:

So you learn to savor everything.

Why is it only in the most rare and fleeting moments do we decide to savor every second? As I stood beneath the illuminated Eiffel Tower this past week, only one of the stops on my amazing fall break, I watched completely in awe. Surrounding me were my best friends, tears falling from a few of their eyes. I gazed at the tip of the tower that seemed to brush the stars, simultaneously sparkling with it’s own, and told myself that I needed to savor this, for this was a big one. A big moment. A moment I would remember for the rest of my life. A moment I would tell my husband about, children about, their children about. I thought, “I need to savor this moment”, as I have thought many times back in Florence. “I need to savor everything about this semester”. I think of it as I walk past the Duomo, during every bite of pizza or mouthwatering truffle gnocchi. So as I walk back later that night, I began to think, “Why just the fleeting moments? Why do we only savor the moments we think we may never get again, when in reality, every moment is a moment you may never get again?”

When you study abroad, you learn this about life, or at least everyone should. You are oceans away from your loved ones, experiencing moments they may never get. There are moments of worry, fear, but there are mostly moments of joy. Moments that astound you and leave you in search of words that will never be powerful enough to justify your emotions. Moments like standing under the Eiffel Tower. 

But when you’re finished with your semester of study abroad, take those moments with you. Take them through the rest of college, the rest of your life. Take them in a single conversation with your grandparents, in a trip to the grocery store with your mom, in sitting around the Christmas tree with your family, or inhaling the herbal scent of a hot cup of tea. 

Mostly, take them into the rest of your four years at Marist.

College really is the best four years of your life. You find yourself, you find your lifelong friends, you find your passions. There is no other time like college.

You get to live down the hall, or sometimes even in the same room as your best friends. Savor every moment in Champ or Marian.

You get to be a little rowdy, a little mischievous. Go to Gia’s at 3am. Get a Bobo from Campus Deli for every meal. 

You live in a new place, with new people and new surroundings. Take a walk across the Hudson, visit the Vanderbilt Mansion. 

You’re parents aren’t there to tell you what to do, or when to do something (except on Parent’s Weekend, so be nice, they may take you to Cosimo’s.)

Study abroad is just like college, only the unknowns are amplified. The adventures are unprecedented. But here’s the thing—make your college adventures unprecedented. If you never get the chance to study abroad, that’s okay. Savor it all. 

So in the words of P.S. I Love You, here it is, the big one. The real reason you should study abroad: 

So you can learn to savor everything. Every. Little. Moment. Maybe one day they will become the big ones.

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