Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Notes from Abroad: Wish you were here

Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Two friends are given a ride on a tour bike through the city central.
Photo by Molly Phegley

My original purpose of this weekly column was to give other students an understanding of what the study abroad experience is really like. I’m doing my best to not stray away from that purpose, but it is hard to keep from writing about all the pretty views and good foods.

I think the biggest struggle of this entire experience so far is the loneliness that seeps into every moment. The distance between me and the people I love so dearly feels like it lengthens each day.

The internet is a wonderful thing, and it allows us to keep in contact with our friends and family through video and text — even weekly columns! However, it is a struggle to ignore the fact that, for three weeks now, I haven’t heard the footsteps of my mom walking around upstairs, or seen the smile creases of my closest friends, or felt the soft ears of my sweet dog.

I am meeting diverse groups of people and making lovely friends, which is something that I am grateful for. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful beaches and unique architecture, but I am experiencing all of this alone.

I find myself “wishing people were here” a lot. Every time I find a cute, romantic spot to enjoy the day, I think, “I can’t wait to bring my boyfriend here.” Or, every time I find an eccentric restaurant, “I want my mom to try this amazing meal.” Or, when I meet a new person that reminds me of my friends back home, “I wish I could introduce them.” Or, sitting in a ramen restaurant on my street, watching groups of girls giggle together, while thinking “I wish you were here...”

I am someone that takes my alone time very seriously, but I am also a person that thrives off deep, human connection.

Many of the people that I am meeting are all very special, like-minded individuals. The issue is that many of us have an understanding that these will be short-term friendships (not to say we won’t keep in contact for longer). This makes it hard to connect on deeper levels, like the ways I have with my people back home.

It’s been a very lonely three weeks. You can ask my journal, I’m sure she’s tired of hearing about it. In this time of loneliness, I find myself continuing to think, “This experience would be so much better if I wasn’t alone.”

I somehow forgot along the way that, at the end of the day, I am my best and closest friend. I have a deep, human connection with myself. I am excited to introduce myself to these cool new people and places.

Without realizing for the longest time, these lonely nights and mornings are helping me build a deeper understanding of myself; in turn, this creates a deeper sense of self-love.

Between the pity parties and pillow screams, I have looked over the true moments of connection. The love-filled meals that I cook for myself. The late night pamper sessions while I sing into my bathroom mirror. The healthy, habit-changing morning routines. The moments of mindfulness, listening to the waves hit the sand. The pages of highlighted self-betterment books while sitting on a blanket at the park.

I have come to terms that I will not be able to share these moments with anyone but myself. The comfort that has come from such a realization has turned my loneliness into the desire to treat myself with as many views, foods, and experiences as possible — and embracing them “alone.”