November 1st. Officially two months abroad and wow, it’s been eye opening. Not necessarily in the positive, stereotypical light that one would expect during their study abroad journey, but one that is still slightly positive. However, this trip so far has proven to be the most difficult thing for me to accomplish in my life thus far, mostly because this experience has pushed me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. Managing my expenses, doing all my homework on time and to the best of my ability, and trying to make the most of being abroad while still maintaining my sense of self is overwhelming, so overwhelming that in the course of two months, my need to go home is immense.
Before I left, around the middle of May, I got a knot in my stomach every time I thought about going to Ottawa. I just couldn’t even imagine myself living abroad by myself (not even any acquaintances from DU) and being able to have a decent experience. It was so great that I even considered pulling the plug on the application. But my parents and friends insisted that I go on this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, to which I agreed, and buried my fears under a strong, artificial confidence that I broadcasted to everyone asking about my upcoming travels. As soon as I stepped in the airport, a few minor suitcase mishaps occurred and the next minute I was crying in the middle of the airport with both of my parents consoling me. It wasn’t over a dumb suitcase mishap, it was because I was going abroad and it was too late to pull out.
From the moment I left the airport, I tried to be strong and enjoy my experience. There were (and probably will be) some positive moments in my experience. Walking around Ottawa on my own time and seeing all my surroundings is fun. Eating poutine, my new local comfort food, for lunch every Friday has become my weekly routine. The occasional trips that the International Office conducts are interesting, too. But, other than that, this experience has been pretty tough for me so far at many different angles. I like the school part of UOttawa, meaning that my classes are fascinating to attend, but I think I ultimately chose the wrong timeframe and program. I think I would be better off doing a summer term program, where it is a little shorter. A fall semester is long, compared to the fall quarter at DU. Time goes by so slowly here and for me, it’s awful. I also don’t think I, as a person, am cut out for studying abroad. I get nervous traveling to a new part of Denver, why would I even bother going to a foreign city?
But I did, and I’m here, trying to make the best of this situation I put myself in. That, in itself, is the moral of my post: if you have any knots within your stomach, pay attention to them! Do what is best for you and not what other people think! Studying abroad is a great experience and one could look at it as a realization of sorts. Had I not come abroad, I would have never realized how difficult it was for me, thus determining how I will handle these experiences and travel differently in the future. So, study abroad was worthwhile for me, in that capacity. But it also taught me to trust my gut from the get go. There was a reason there seemed to be a billion knots in my stomach prior to me leaving. I wished I would’ve paid attention to that.
My ultimate goal is to finish my classes strong and start getting my belongings packed for my departure. I still have six-ish weeks left until I leave, but it’s never too early to start sorting through stuff to make the packing easier during finals.
I don’t know when I’ll write a new post, maybe when I leave in a few weeks. We’ll see. . . until next time!