Friday, June 10, 2011

Things I Have Learned (While Abroad)

I was going to make a list, you know, of "things I have learned".  I would have been not unlike a fifth-grader at the end of a school year standing in the front of the classroom, with droplets of sweat clinging to the back of her neck while staring at piece of paper veined with thin blue lines and covered in smudges.  Her classmates would be squirming in their seats anxious to tear down the hallways and into the sunshine that beckons through the dirt-streaked windows.

But this is not fifth grade, is it?

The truth is I can't articulate exactly what it is I've learned in my time here.  I've done all those stereotypical things that people "do" when they are abroad: strengthened my language skills, made new friends, pushed myself beyond my comfort zone, etc, etc.  But there has been more to my experience than these things.  There were definitely times when I was so overwhelmed I felt I couldn't adjust anymore, and I didn't feel like I needed to.  I observed that some of my fellow exchange students got stuck in ruts: the going to clubs four times a week rut; the buying cheap shit rut; the I-hate-Taiwan-rut. (full disclosure: I was stuck in all of those ruts at one point or another this year.  Mom--I never went out four nights a week.)  It was extremely painful to leave those ruts, but when I did, I always learned more about myself and the world became a richer place.  And I will always be grateful for finding the courage to leave former, less than beautiful versions of myself behind.  It meant saying goodbye to ways of thinking, people, and habits that were no longer in my best interest.  But the people I have met, the new opinions I have adopted and the new things I am doing are fulfilling beyond my wildest expectations.  This year, while it had its ups and downs, was a gift.

 I am grateful for who I have become and the people who have accompanied me thus far.  If you're reading this blog, then that means you.  Thank you for coming along with me on this journey.  I look forward to the many places we'll go together.


P. S.  I can change!  I can take a picture with Hello Kitty paraphernalia and not puke.


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  2. So glad it changed your life! Sounds like you've had an amazing experience. :)