I always knew I wanted to study abroad in college. I had known since I participated in my school’s 8th grade “Maine-Exchange.” You went up to Maine for a week in February to live with a family and in May the student you stayed with came down and stayed with you. Pretty self-explanatory. That was the trip that started everything. I loved leaving home for a week and seeing how other people lived. I found it fascinating and I wanted more. All throughout high school I dreamed of where I would go and what places I would see. I had everything pretty much planned out, minus which country I would actually live in.
Then I went to college and joined my sorority. I fell in love with it. My sisters were everything to me. They made college so much better and I was starting to have doubts about going to a different country for such a long time. I didn’t want to lose everything I had worked for and gained these past few months. I absolutely adored my pledge sisters and my big was my world. At nineteen, my life was pretty perfect. The only thing was, that little travel bug was still nudging me, reminding me of everything I wanted to see. After a few weeks of stressing and panic-calling my parents, I decided I would follow through with my original plan. I was going to study in Scotland for a whole year.
Since I didn’t have to leave until a week after my home school started the semester, I went up during move-in weekend to say goodbye to all of my sisters. There were definitely more tears than I had expected and I was once again terrified to leave. I got on the plane a week later, though, knowing that if I didn’t it would be hundreds of dollars down the drain. The moment I stepped off the stuffy train onto the windy tarmac in Edinburgh, I knew I had made the right decision.
Weeks passed and then months. I made new friends, experienced a different culture, ate and drank way too much, and had the time of my life. I made sure to keep in touch with my sorority sisters. We skyped whenever we could. 90 percent of the time I was drunk but that made it even better. Each time we talked I realized that spending time away from them wasn’t making our friendship less important but more. Just because we were 3,000 miles away didn’t mean we were any less close. My new friends weren’t replacing my old ones. I was excited to tell them about everything I was doing.
I also learned that my time in the sorority had prepared me for leaving and I appreciated everything it had given me. It made me more confident which helped me put myself out there. It taught me that I’m independent. I traveled to a foreign country by myself. I’m not sure I could have done that if I hadn’t gained the self-assurance in myself that the sorority instilled in me. I was proud of who I was because my sisters taught me that you’re allowed to think the best of yourself.
I miss my days abroad and I plan on going back but I’m happy to be home. I love being able to see my sisters every day. They’re the ones who keep me on my feet and moving forward. Leaving didn’t change the way I viewed my sorority, it just confirmed what I had known all along:
That I’m right where I belong..
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