So you probably noticed that six months ago I completely disappeared from bookstagram. The reason: I was spending my last semester of university studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. And now I’m back, with a few worldly insights to share. None of which are exactly groundbreaking, but I’ll share them with you anyway.
Before going on exchange I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into. Every person I had spoken to about their experience abroad raved about it. Yes, there’s hiccups here and there (don’t worry I experienced them too), but on the whole, people say it’s pretty freaking amazing. And they’re damn right. When will I ever again be able to shirk my responsibilities and go frolicking across Europe? When will I get to drink abhorrent amounts of French wine, share laughs with people from across the globe, and stuff myself with every different food imaginable without self-hatred and regret (for every pain au chocolat I ate, I told myself it was just another part of the “immersive cultural experience”). Sadly, probably never.
As I graduate and settle into my first full-time job, adulting has never seemed so boring. It seems like all I wanted in high school and the first few years of university was to grow up, get a job, start making money, move out, etc. Graduation couldn’t come soon enough. But now that it’s all happening, I just want to press pause and can’t! Okay, the reverse culture shock is hitting me a bit hard, I know. But I promise I’m not completely miserable. When I think back to my time abroad I feel incredibly thankful and proud. Look, Mom! Look what I’ve accomplished at the ripe ol’ age of twenty-one! You can throw me out into the world alone and I won’t die!
Jokes aside, I definitely recognize some intrapersonal development, as fruity as that sounds. I listen to myself more, I second-guess myself less. I’ve learned to trust myself to make the right gut decisions and I feel more confident in general. I’m more aware and empathetic. And despite it being contradictory, the world seems so much bigger and exciting -but also so much smaller and more accessible to me than it did before.
Now, I know this post has absolutely nothing to do with books (gasp! but this is supposed to be a book blog!!). But to be honest, my life has had absolutely nothing to do with books for the past 5 months. The entire time I was abroad I read one book. Yes, you read that right. ONE.
And my lack of reading wasn’t a conscious choice. After arriving Strasbourg, I was immediately bombarded with new experience after new experience. I quickly got overwhelmed, but knew that I couldn’t just let those experiences go to waste. Whenever I picked up a book I would hear a little voice in my head asking: should I really be reading right now? When instead I could be out walking the streets of Strasbourg, eating baguette and cheese, or hanging out with that fun Colombian girl one residence floor above me? Considering my abysmal book count, you know what my answer was every time. Sounds like a really bad case of FOMO doesn’t it? But instead of sticking my nose in a book and reading about someone else’s adventures, I was off having adventures of my own.
If you get the chance, you should too.