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On May 17, 2022, in an insular cafe in Heidelberg, Germany, I wrote in my required travel journal this line:

Even though I’m majoring in English, I have always found that a love of writing is a flame that easily dies out and constantly needs reigniting. For me, a finished written work is a reward like no other, but in nearly every case, it is preceded by great mental turmoil. Questions of “How do I make this profound?” and “How can I express what I actually mean?” are sometimes mountains so high that they prevent me from ever lacing up my shoes in the first place (which in this metaphor would mean opening up a Word Doc) and starting the trek.

As I am days away from boarding a plane to Stockholm and calling it my new home, l could easily choose now not to write or reflect. But the consequence of that seems worse than the hard work it requires. The process of writing, although I dread it in the way I would a 3-mile run (something I almost never do), forces thoughts out of your subconscious and presents them as new and necessary discoveries. That’s why I’m excited to blog: A Brake Abroad is my way of internalizing my adventures in Europe, rather than just letting each day dissipate and wondering on the plane ride home wtf just happened. The act of writing (and making it a habit), although uniquely uncomfortable, is crucial to the way I find meaning and make memories in life.

My travel journal from Heidelberg, DE
My Travel Journal from Heidelberg, DE

In this spirit, here is how I’m feeling 9 days out from my departure to Stockholm:

Packing up my things and moving out of my apartment at Furman (leisurely, and 3 hours after the move-out deadline) was an experience marked by loss. The entire semester, every happy memory I made—meeting my freshman friend, Patrick; painting in the art studio with Ashley; and hosting my 21st birthday— had a bittersweet tinge. Preparing to go abroad has the aura of excitement around it, but because I have no idea what to expect, there is nothing that’s filling the hole left by having to prematurely pack up and leave my home college.

Patrick and I at a Furman tailgate
Late Night with Ashley in the art studio
Popping the champagne at my 21st birthday party

However, I know I’ve made the right choice. Attending a small liberal arts college can be equally as intimate as it is suffocating, and the reason I chose to study at DIS was to meet people from colleges around the world and escape the thinking and way of life existent at Furman University. I remembering during my Maymester in Heidelberg the feeling of self discovery and reflection brought from being entirely displaced from your own culture. The realization that you’re somewhere else heightens your awareness—both of new things and the identity and culture you brought with you. I look forward to feeling this way in a new place and for a longer time.

Luckily, there is a piece of home I’m bringing with me to Stockholm: my college best friend, Megan. As our different course loads and busy schedules have sometimes pulled us apart, I am excited to have undistracted time with her abroad to deepen our friendship. There are some friends that enter your life where the chemistry comes easily. Megan is one of those friends for me. I can picture us walking blissfully down quaint alleyways, sipping coffee (which she doesn’t like, so she’d prob just get a water) and laughing about the events of the day. Even with the incredible experiences ahead of me, this might be the thing I’m looking forward to the most.

Megan and I – Spring 2022

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