A Reflection on My Experience
As I sit here in the plane, looking out on the endless sea beneath me, I cannot help but reflect on the past six months. It seems like yesterday I was on the this plane headed east, full of excitement and apprehension for all the new adventures I would encounter and people I would meet. Now I am on the way home, planning out my first meal in the states and continuing on with the life I left behind.
It is sad that we always have to leave something behind, that we cannot merge the two places in which we so long to be. Throughout this whole journey I wished my family could have experienced all of this with me. When in Germany I wish Courtney and Derek would have been there to show me their old stomping ground, have my sisters go wine tasting with me in Spain, explore the ancient Roman ruins with my parents, or go out to the discotecas with my best friends from high school. I know in the states I will long for my roommates from Almeria to be waiting for me at the apartment after a long day of classes, have my California, Mexican and Polish friends close by to take road trips with me, or to have the whole gang together again to go out for dinner. But that is how life goes; we must end one chapter to begin another. Yet each chapter enriches all chapters to come, and I have never known that to be so true until this experience.
Not only do I return home with more clothes, souvenirs and a few extra pounds, but more importantly I leave with more competence, audacity and gratitude. Competence does not just come from textbooks and case studies, it comes from real life experiences where you open your eyes to your surroundings and appreciate the world. Creating friendships with people from different countries such as Mexico, Poland, Croatia, Germany and Bulgaria, I learned so much about the different cultures and lifestyles. It was extremely humbling that this random mix of people from all over the world could find common ground and create true and lasting friendships.
I leave with more audacity because every part of this trip took a bit of courage from the last minute planning of a desert adventure in Morocco to traveling to cities on my own, I had to put my inhibitions aside and just do it. Thanks to my Mexican friend, I now repeatedly use the phrase “Why not?”. My sister Courtney recently invited me on a trip to Puerto Rico during Thanksgiving, and I answered her with “Why not?” and booked the plan tickets five days later. I learned that sometimes we must take action before we talk ourselves out of it because life is too short to continuously change our minds.
Above all, this experience has provided me with a pure sense of gratitude. I will go home to a washing and drying machine, air conditioning, a car, carpet, an oven, a yard, televisions in almost every room and my family. I am extremely grateful for my two parents who support me and had enough trust to let their baby girl embark on her own adventure. They never said “No, you don’t need to go there” but rather were excited when I said I am taking a random road trip through Spain to see some monkeys. I am thankful for my sisters who have always encouraged me and been a constant support system, and my grandparents who are never surprised when the Logel girls decide to take yet another trip.
This feeling is still surreal, that life as I knew it for six months has come to a close indefinitely. It is not like school, where I will take a three month break and return for another year, but rather the fact is that the atmosphere which has become normal to me is no more. Spain will always have a place in my heart as a second home, and I know I will be no stranger. With all of the sad goodbyes and “last times” comes the excitement of what is awaiting me at home. As the famous quote goes, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”