At the end of my semester abroad last spring in the Dominican Republic, I came back a changed person. I know this sounds cliché and you’re probably rolling your eyes at my admission, because I too would roll my eyes. But it’s true. My time abroad captured my heart and ignited a flame in me to which I often find myself failing to describe, explain or make sense of. However, I truly believe I came back from my study abroad experience a new and changed person. I changed for the better and I liked—no, I loved who I became. Because of the experiences, opportunities and the obstacles I encountered during my time abroad, “jumping” became a literal and figurative reoccurring theme I couldn’t seem to rid myself of. I believed I had become a fearless person by the end of my program, willing and ready to face anything in life and to “jump” at all opportunities I was presented with.
Towards the end of my time abroad, during my reflection phase, I made a promise to myself that I would continue to travel, continue to explore, continue to learn and to allow pieces of my heart to get left behind wherever I may go and always pursue life without fear of the unknown. I realized the only way to do this as my favourite Finding Nemo character Dory would say, was to just keep swimming, or in my case, jumping. However, when presented with the opportunity to travel to Australia, I panicked. I was scared because I didn’t feel ready to move on. I had left so much of my heart in the places I had travelled to during my time abroad; I just wasn’t ready to “jump” at this new experience. I felt as though by pursuing the opportunity to study abroad in Australia, I was betraying my first study abroad experience: sort of like pursuing an affair and cheating on the Dominican Republic.
I was fearful of this new opportunity and I quickly became frustrated with myself because I couldn’t understand why. Why was I scared, why was I hesitant in participating in this program when it was the dream of a lifetime? I felt ashamed and it made me question if I’d truly became fearless while abroad—if everything I thought I had learned or gained while abroad was all in my head. I continued to question and doubt myself until I came across the Taylor Swift quote where she talks about fear, and the importance of not letting that fear stop you from doing something. It was then that I learned the true definition of “fearless”: having fears and doubts but living in spite of these fears and doubts. So I jumped.
Studying abroad awakened something in me, and I simply want more of it. I spent my semester engaging with people and experiences, but also growing, and learning. Before, during and after my experience abroad, I learned a lot about myself, about jumping and about fears. With my impending trip to Australia drawing near, I can wholeheartedly say I look forward to continue learning about this great world we live in and jumping at every opportunity that allows me the chance of doing so.