One month ago today, I was walking into Lambert Airport with luggage I could barely carry. Somehow I freed a hand to wipe the tears that did not want to stop falling. I felt like everyone was looking at me, even though they most likely weren’t. I stood in line to check my biggest bag, struggling to keep myself together. I kept telling myself not to think. If I thought about any of the goodbyes, any of the going away gifts my loved ones gave me, any of the help I’d received in the past few weeks, I was going to cry again.
Leaving all of the people I love was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’d never even left the country before, so I don’t think words could effectively describe the gaping hole that was forming in my heart when I’d realized it was really happening. I was leaving, and it would be months before I could see anyone again. The excitement I’d been feeling to finally begin my journey was gone. All I could feel was fear and sadness.
Everything changed when I got to Leiden. The joy this place brings me is incredible. I wake up every morning and immediately open the window to gaze at the beautiful view. Walking around and running errands is one of the most enjoyable things I do now. The energy of this little city flows through me every day and always brings a smile to my face. It’s magical here, even when it’s cold and rainy. I’m so happy I went through the hard part to get to where I am now. I still miss everyone so much, but I know I’ll see you all before I know it. I am living in a beautiful, magical city, and I’ve already had the privilege of traveling to two other countries. A month has passed and it’s still only the beginning. I have so many more adventures planned, and I have hard time believing that I am actually able to do all of this.
Leaving home was so difficult, but it was worth it. The several months I spent working three jobs, trying my best in school, and spending so many late nights planning this trip were so worth it. This month has taught me something really important. Even though it’s incredibly difficult, sometimes you have to make sacrifices for things that are so much bigger than anything else. When I started at Webster, the study abroad program was tempting, but I told myself I couldn’t do it. I had to stay home and work. I had to stay with my friends and family. I had to graduate early. It was too expensive, there was no way I could make it happen.
I was wrong. Do not ever tell yourself you can’t do something. If it will make you happy and it’s something you really want, you can make it happen. Don’t believe me? I haven’t lived with my parents in years, my car breaks every other week, I pay way too much to go to school, and I have an obnoxious amount of medical bills I struggle to pay because I love soccer but it doesn’t love me. I had never left home for longer than two weeks. I had never even left the United States prior to coming here. None of that mattered, though. All of the odds were against me, but I still made it happen. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I am living in The Netherlands. I am traveling to places I never in my wildest dreams would’ve imagined possible. If I can do it, so can you.
I am so lucky to be able to have this experience and to have the support system that I have at home. You all check on me so often. The texts, emails, Facebook comments/messages, and Skype sessions make me so happy. Being this far away has shown me what incredible people are in my life, and I am so thankful for all of you. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you and miss you all.