BY ROSE FORSTER

I’m about to go home. It’s been four months that have been both exhilarating and exhausting. I’ve been surrounded by people I love, I’ve been completely lonely, and everything in between. Now that it’s time for me to head home, here are a few things that this experience has taught me.  

Leaving is Hard, but Necessary 

Something I’ve often struggled with, because I move around a lot, is making connections with people. I’m always acutely aware of the fact that I will be leaving eventually, and I’m worried that connecting with people emotionally will make leaving so much harder. That is definitely true, but every time I do leave a place, I’m reminded of the fact that friendships can last despite distance. For every casual friendship that falls apart when I leave a place, there’s a friendship I maintain. I now have places to stay when I next decide to visit England, or Germany, and I can offer the same of LA. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch with people, and because so many friendships are conducted online,  it’s important not to devalue them for that reason. My friends and I may have cried when we said goodbye to each other, but our reunions will be so much sweeter.  

 

Your Life Is On Hold

Something that I found difficult was that life back home moves on without you. I’m very involved in life at UCLA, and it’s really hard to keep up with things that are happening while you’re not there. As the music director of an a cappella group, I faced a lot of challenges. (You can see me on the phone via FaceTime in the photo above, during our first meeting of the quarter). I couldn’t teach music over FaceTime, and sending recordings and notes could only get me so far. Additionally, half of our group is made up of new singers whom I’ve never met. Having to keep up with life back home can make you feel stuck in the place where you are. But try to remember that this is time you have earned to live life somewhere new! If it gets overwhelming, you are well within your rights to take a break from life back home and focus on the present. I’m excited to get back to UCLA, but I will have to catch up on certain things when I get home, and that’s also part of the deal.  

 You Have to Leave to Come Home 

I have grown so much as a person, and I don’t even know the extent of it yet. Studying abroad changes you in very subtle ways, and I’m sure I won’t understand all of it until I’ve returned home and settled back in. I know now that I can spend lots of time alone, but I am an extrovert, and living with other people makes me happy. I know that I will get to the airport way earlier than I need to, so I need other people to balance out my anal-retentiveness. I know that I am resourceful when faced with a challenge, and I can help myself through any problem. Coming home is such an invigorating feeling. I love doing it every time. It makes you understand more about your worth as a person. I know a lot more about another culture now, and that can only help me in the long run. 

It’s been a wild adventure, and now I have to go home and use the experiences I’ve picked up at UCLA. Honestly, I’m so excited.