Studying Abroad Changed My Life

Friday, February 21, 2014

After coming back from a semester abroad, I've realized that I'm not the same person I was before I left.

Prior to leaving I was a shy girl who had a hard time having a normal conversation with people. I felt that I had to look the way society wanted me to look. When I became 18, I started becoming obsessed with makeup. It was something I felt that I needed to wear because I wanted to look "beautiful". Although I do not want to admit it, I was seeking male attention. Growing up, a lot of the boys didn't like me. I was never considered pretty to them so when I started college I wanted attention, the kind of attention I never had before.

Because of that, I did stuff my first year of college that I am not proud of. I hurt someone who cared so much about me and I pretended it didn't happen. So when I finally started caring about someone they did what I had done. I felt that it was karma, that I was being punished for what I had done. I wanted to forget about it and act like nothing had ever happened. So when I tried to do different things that would distract me I decided to study abroad. And to be honest it was the best decision that I have ever made.

Being abroad has really allowed me to discover who I really am. When I was first there I'm not going to lie I hated it. I wanted to go back home and be in an environment that was familiar to me. I wanted to be surrounded by the friends that I already had and be back with the guy I thought I was in love with. But that was me before, ignorant of what the world had to offer and what I could learn from it.

Being away made me realize a lot of things I never would have. I discovered a love for traveling. I wanted to see things that I could never see at home. I became more social and started having conversations with people at hostels like I had known them my whole life. I started being less shy and just realized that people will like talking to you if you're yourself.

Another thing I realized was how important our environment really is. Having lived in a college town for the past two years I thought that all towns should look like this. I thought it was normal for concrete to be everywhere. But I realized that is so wrong. The way we live is not normal. We should be able to go outside and walk on a trail to get somewhere else and see animals in their natural habitat. We should be able to see large areas of field and get a desire to be outside. I loved being outdoors and it was something I wanted to do.

But the most important thing I got out of my experience was that I realized my self worth and that I am beautiful. Being away made me see that I didn't need to put up with all the hurt I had the year prior to going abroad. I made a big decision and I broke up with my boyfriend, the person who caused me so much hurt and suffering my second year of college.  That was something that needed to happen but might not have if I had stayed home. I realized that I didn't need attention from guys because I honestly don't need it. Especially if it isn't worth it.

Although he might not know this, but my boyfriend abroad made me see how beautiful I really am. At the time I thought i couldn't live up to an image I thought was beautiful because I didn't look like the girls in the media. I didn't see why he thought i was beautiful because I didn't see anything extraordinary in the way I looked. But he was right, beauty is more than skin deep. I'm beautiful in my own way and I do not need to conform to how society tells me I should be. Because of this i stopped my old habits, I stopped straightening my hair everyday, I stopped wearing much makeup and I appreciate myself more. I am forever grateful to have had him in my life.

I realize who I am now. A girl who is comfortable with herself, who realizes she is beautiful in her own way. Someone who isn't afraid to take risks and be in an uncomfortable environment. Someone who realizes her self worth and won't put up with being with someone who thinks otherwise. Someone who realizes her mistakes and won't run away and won't hurt people. And all of this I have to thank studying abroad. It changed my life in the most positive way possible. I now have to take all these changes and use them to bring out positive changes not only in myself but in others.  It was a privilege to have had this experience and it's something I will always be grateful for.

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