Is the magic of studying – or even being – abroad a feeling that we ourselves produce?
Last year, I got my first tattoo, cut off all my hair and gallivanted around Europe for a semester. And now I’m walking through slush. A year ago, I daresay that I would have marvelled at slush – how magical, how wonderful, how positively incredible slush is! At least when it’s in England, eh? Indeed, as forty-eight percent of Gonzaga students know, the aftereffects of returning home from time spent away from our beloved campus carries back with us quite the harrowing feeling.
Our lives, or more our Facebook feeds, were once filled with exotic locales and daring adventures. I could wake up one morning and walk beside the Thames, if I so desired. And then post it to Instagram and smile as people across the pond expressed their jealousy and wish to be where I was. And now I am that person across the Atlantic, gazing at pictures of faraway friends and wishing that I were there too. I realized soon enough that this was quite the sad picture I was painting for myself, and as I walked through the decidedly dreary Spokane slush, I began to wonder if slush was really that different a couple thousand miles away.
After many very scientific studies, my colleagues and I have concluded that slush is actually much the same no matter the location. I admit, when I first heard the results, I was aghast. Why, then, did it feel so much more satisfying to splash through the sludgy substance with glee and enthusiasm over there while I manage to bear a striking resemblance to Grumpy Cat over here?
After another slew of backbreaking research, I have come to find that because we are expected to have fun every second, minute and hour of our lives abroad, we become our own self-fulfilling prophecy. We have told ourselves in anticipation over and over again that the coming five months will be the most exciting of our lives, that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that fun must be had at all times or else that opportunity is being frivolously wasted. And as a result, we end up finding joy in slush and rain and cold weather merely because we have forced ourselves to do so. Which brought up another intriguing question: why aren’t we doing that here, too?
Going abroad isn’t necessarily about the city that you’re going to, but the experience that you’re expecting to have, the things that you can learn, the people that you can meet. This might sounds crazy at first, but honestly we can do a lot of that here, as well. Shocking, I know.
To be clear, I am not discouraging going abroad – I had a hoot and a half over there – but more, I am questioning how those of us who are not currently engaging in the pleasure of gallivanting around a foreign country can see Spokane, or any city, as a place where just as much discovery, magic and enchantment can occur. This column intends to address this question throughout the semester – investigating how everyday life can turn into the same highlight reel that the folks across the pond are producing.
My initial instinct is this: to be able to view every day as one filled with magic, one must first believe that it is possible. And I’ll take my first step by eyeing the slush around my car as a splendid opportunity to test out my new rainboots. I’ll let you know how it goes.