I’ve been writing a lot about how I feel towards certain things. It sounds a little bit abstract sometimes, not talking precisely about it. I haven’t done it because I’m afraid there is not space nor words enough to write all the things that happened during my semester abroad. That’s the problem, you know, once your “erasmus” semester is over: what to do with all the memories? Being a writer, of course that the only thing I can do with them is just…write them down. Slowly, piece by piece, memory by memory. Anyway, this is just another short version of a very long story.
I knew since I started university that I wanted to study abroad. Even before that, the idea always was to study English Literature and then do a semester abroad to “test the waters” and see if I actually liked living abroad. As soon as I settled in uni I started looking up for universities abroad in the UK, and I finally decided that “Glasgow” sounded vaguely familiar. Then the whole “it might not work”, “I still have to apply for this”, “maybe I won’t even get to the second phase” came, mainly because I couldn’t believe I was actually going to do it. It was a long, long year during which I had to prepare myself for what was about to come (even though I kept telling myself that things could end up in nothing). And then one day I got my acceptation letter. Then I bought my flight tickets. It was done, there was no way of going back, and there were no doubts anymore.
So I took this flight that lasted nineteen hours, with two layovers in the middle, towards Glasgow, Scotland. I was caring two suitcases, a huge coat and almost fifteen hours of non-sleep with me. I was also caring lots of hopes and fears. I never thought I would actually travel so far away from home, even if I had always wanted to do it. But there I was, a Sammy in the middle of an unknown land, trying to figure out the currency change, her huge luggage and the rain all at the same time.
I did so many amazing things, both in and outside of Glasgow. I learned to manage grocery shopping and cooking. I also learned to spend my money wisely, which was waaaay harder than I thought it would be. I lost my fear to walk alone at night, and also my fear to the gym. I went up many hills, hiked, walked for 50 minutes at 3 a.m, surfed, and ice-skated in a frozen lake in some lost little town in Prague. I drank more beer than water, rode a bicycle in Amsterdam and then in Dublin (definitely two COMPLETELY different things), and trusted strangers to let me stay in their homes. I learned to trust people and give up control. And well, yes, I also went to classes and read lots of books and learned a looooot about Shakespeare and Victorian Literature, just in case you were wondering about the “study” part of my studying abroad experience.
I must admit I had my ups and downs. Homesickness is a real thing, especially when you have always lived with your parents or have absolutely no idea how to cook the simplest things, like rice. But, to be completely honest, it was the best time of my life so far. I met so many amazing people who became my closest friends; visited amazing places I’d always dreamed about; learned sooooo much about my favourite thing in the world, literature, and finally discovered what I wanna pursue after finishing my major (which is a big deal when you’re in your senior year). But above all, I learned hell of a lot about myself and about fear, trust, friendship and love.
I wish I could literally write every single little thing that happened to me while I was studying abroad and travelling. I wish I could have stopped the time there and stayed in that place and in that moment forever. Before going to Glasgow I thought the time would never come, and then when it finally came it just went by so incredibly fast. And after it —and through it too— so many things changed, and time kept moving and now it’s July and I can’t believe it ended and that six months have passed. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it actually happened, that I lived abroad and traveled for six months and survived.
I left full of amazing memories and experiences, but also heartbroken (in all the possible ways life and people can break your heart). I’m still dealing with it. Leaving a place that has given you so much peace and that has shown you so many things about yourself is just bound to be a problem. Even so, the experience of living abroad, of studying abroad, and of travelling (alone) for the first time in my life was more than what I had expected and imagined. I wish I could go back to the 2013 version of myself and tell her that she will achieve everything she has been fighting for, and more.