In less than 48 hours, I will be in a new country (Croatia) and have had said final goodbyes to some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
After nearly a year abroad, my time in Austria is coming quickly to an end. I have spent months making not just acquaintances but sisters, brothers and life-altering friendships. Everyone that I have come into contact here has had an impact on me; after thousands of conversations with people that do not share the same nationality, life history and perspective on the world, my own outlook on life has been challenged and sometimes changed.
I have not even left and I am already beginning to brainstorm my return to Europe. I have sisters that I MUST see again from England, Portugal and Croatia. And once here, it will not be hard to attempt to visit more of these wonderful people across the continent. Time to work on getting a job! If all of my friends are planning on being in Paris for New Years, I’d better start saving up now!!
I have experienced some of the most fun, loud, and insane Lady Gaga –loving Italians one could ever find. I have realized that the French really aren’t all that bad—some are really quite wonderful! I have bonded with the most patriotic Croatians I could ever find. Their intelligence, their history growing up in a country torn by warfare, their lust for life and their friendliness has impressed me greatly. I am very fortunate to have the chance to visit their country (and beautiful beaches J). Americans abroad were of course easy to bond with, but the ones I have met here are some of the coolest guys you could find in or outside of the country. I have met so many nationalities that I would be impossible to list and to expound upon their amazing-ness.
One morning, whilst suffering from a severe headache induced by dehydration of the brain (which is strange… I had drank so much the night before J), I had misspoke and stated that, “…this Erasmus (Study abroad) experience is a bit shallow.” That was a lie. I had referred to the excessive fun-having and a bit worn-out after a wonderful night, but it was still a lie. I have had conversations about politics, culture, humor, the future, our pasts, science, history, and shared life experiences during these nights. I now greatly regret having said that amongst my closest friends.
I have lived in this family of friends for so long, it will be a strange experience being alone and travelling home to the real world. Of course I have my friends back home, but these relationships were built under different circumstances in which we had all temporarily left our lives, families, friends, and culture and had bonded through all the hardships, the home-sickness, the great times having fun, the traveling through Europe, and all the other once-in-a-lifetime experiences that we had shared together. There is an end to everything, but even when the tears are flowing and the last hugs are had, no goodbye can take away these experiences.
Tuesday will be one of the hardest days of my life. Harder than any test I have worked for, any mountain climb or run, heck, even harder for me than when I had to move because of the Army when I was younger. Of course it will be no funeral… but never again will all of these people be in one place at one time, but as everyone is telling me, “Never say never”. I will have friends from England to New Zealand that I will have to visit, but as I have learned, the stress and costs of travel is totally worth the destination.