First of all, we want to thank you all for a wonderful semester of IFG! It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know each of you as we all work towards becoming multi-local individuals.
This week, we want to leave you with a longer post than usual, covering some resources, thoughts and guidelines on life after this study-abroad experience. We also want to consider how you can apply the frameworks and mindsets that you’ve learned here to whatever comes next.
As you go forward, always remember that “the opposite may also be true“!
“Graduates, my sleepy graduates, my terrified graduates, I wish I could tell you that the key to life beyond [this experience] was as simple as saying to yourself, ‘I am not throwing away my shot.’ To be like Hamilton, to charge forward and chase what you want. But in reality, it took eight years of hard work to take that 80-minute one-act from Second Stage into the version that opened on Broadway. Eight years for the guy who fell in love with theater because of the instant gratification.
I wish I could tell you the key to life beyond [this experience] is, ‘Wait for it, wait for it, wait.’ To be like Burr, to wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself. But in reality, I wrote In the Heights my sophomore year because I NEEDED to write it. I was bursting with ideas, inspired by my housemates at La Casa, and I couldn’t set them to music fast enough. Because I was nearing the end of a four-year relationship that had begun in high school. When she left to study abroad, I found myself with all this time and angst, and I used it as rocket fuel to write that first Heights draft in about three weeks.
In reality, you’re always going to be rushing and waiting at the same time. You will pack your things to leave tomorrow while savoring every moment of today. You’ll chase down your friends to say goodbye, but know that the ones who matter the most will be in your life for the rest of your life. You picture where you’ll be in five years, but the world might change around you while you’re buying a Bob Dylan album. You take out a second mortgage and work seven days a week so four years later, you can cheer the loudest when they call your child’s name at graduation. You hold the present in your hand as tight as you can, while your other hand reaches out for more.”
- Realize that you can’t change people.
- Talk about the experience, but respect that not everyone wants to hear it.
- But seek out people who DO want to hear about it.
- Write about it.
- Keep connected with those that you’ve met abroad.
- Get out of the house.
- Move on with your life.
- Establish a schedule.
- Seek out new experiences
- Keep positive.
“I often like to describe the abroad experience as one that takes away a part of your identity – in particular that part of you that is taken up by your home country. Living abroad, in a country that does not speak your first language especially, breaks you apart, leaving you in limbo, giving you distance from yourself in a way that is often uncomfortable. It allows you to see yourself from the perspective of this new country, to realize which part of you is a result of your cultural upbringing, which part of you is just you, and which part is an inextricable entanglement of the two. And then, inevitably, you are forced to remake yourself. To use the distance from yourself provided by this experience to see yourself for who you really are and who you want to be, and most importantly, to construct a new identity that somehow reconciles the two. Or something like that, anyways.”
“Indeed, travel has a way of slowing you down, of waking you up, of pulling you up out of your daily routines and seeing life in a new way. This new way of looking at the world need not end when you resume your life at home.”
“The narrative is useful as long as it’s useful, helping you solve problems and move forward. But when it reinforces bad habits or makes things smaller, we can drop it and merely be present, right here, right now.”
“Take a deep breath, expanding your belly. Pause. Exhale slowly to the count of five. Repeat four times.
Congratulations. You’ve just calmed your nervous system.
Controlled breathing, like what you just practiced, has been shown to reduce stress, increase alertness and boost your immune system.“
“When we bring mindfulness into our daily routines (dishes, laundry, eating) what we’re doing is bringing a bit more focus to each moment. Without that focus, the things we routinely do around the house or at the office tend to be part of our “accomplishing self,” that part of our selves that is goal-oriented and constantly checking off a to-do list. It’s hard to be mindful when your activities are only part of a bigger plan to get things done.”
What do I notice around me currently? How does my body feel right now?
What can I appreciate about the present moment? What am I grateful for at this time?