I’m convinced that some things will never change, like my love for coffee and dark chocolate. My strange obsession with apples. And the crazy awesome fact that Jesus and His love follow us no matter where we’re at in the world.
Some things do change, though.
I’ve been encouraged by several people to write more on my blog about the everyday. The feelings, the realizations, and the learning experiences. Yes, I’ll still share a lot of travel pictures, but I think it is important to note that the travel over here is really the smallest part of my adventure abroad.
I share travel pictures and stories on social media because it’s easy. I can hide behind a smile and a cool background and people can just assume that I’m having the time of my life. To be honest, I really am having an awesome time, but the personal journey that I am experiencing over here is the biggest reason I came and is the most life changing part of being gone from family, friends, and familiarity. So, I guess that is reason to go on about some of the things I’ve been learning.
Over the course of the last month, I’ve realized how amazingly thankful I am that I decided to study abroad for an entire semester.
Before leaving, I had doubts about whether I should leave for such a long period of time, because I was afraid of missing out on things back home or that people would forget about me. This hasn’t been farther from the truth. While I’ve been over here, I’ve felt the love of friends and family more than ever before and I have realized how much people love me. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that they’re praying for me or they ask how I’m doing or they just text me about their days. I have felt so loved by people back home, and that part has been amazing.
This has been a great time to really search out for myself who I am. I’m able to ponder why I actually believe what I believe, when it’s not easy and when everyone around me doesn’t make the same decisions that I do. Most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by people who have relatively similar viewpoints as me and it’s always been easy for me to do the things I do. That’s definitely not the case here, but I think this has really solidified the things that are important in life to me while also bringing a sense of greater understanding and appreciation for people from different backgrounds than me.
While I mentioned that cultural differences can be challenging, I should also mention a thought that I had the other day. As I was getting ready for the day, the thought crossed my mind, “There has not been one day here that I’ve woken up and dreaded the day.” Each day here is different and my plans often fall out the window once the day gets going, but I think that’s the beauty of it all. I’ve always been such a rigid planner and letting that go (a little bit-don’t expect a life transformation here, people) has been really freeing and enjoyable.
I guess the last thing I’ll mention is how happy I am here and how safe I feel. I now feel 100% confident that I choose the right place and the right university. Lancaster is the perfect mix of small town, university-geared, while also having plenty to do.
So, because I just love this town, I thought you should see a picture of it. On Sunday, after church, I hiked up to Ashton Memorial in town with my friends Michelle & Victoria. It was actually sunny and warm, so the view was crystal clear and amazing to see!