As I bubble in the only remaining test question on my last final exam a rush of emotions instantly come over me. Normally a moment of this nature is met with a sigh of relief, but for me it was an odd dichotomous feeling of absolute ecstasy and palpable anxiousness. At this very moment I realized my Fall semester was over and only a few short weeks stand between me and a new chapter in my life.
As I slowly walked back home from my testing center I looked around and took in all UF’s campus has to offer. Different buildings and areas sparked a flood of memories I’ve been so fortunate to make since I embarked on my journey at UF two and half years ago. It was slowly but surely becoming more real to me that for the first time in my college life I’d be making memories somewhere else, and life in Gainesville would go on without me. On this walk I really started to think what an opportunity I have before me. For me, the University of Florida embodies everything I’m comfortable and familiar with.
My parents met here when they were students in the 1980s and I quite literally attribute UF for my existence. Growing up I’d always visit Gainesville, I had probably 30 articles of clothing with a Gator on them, and my Dad would talk about how great it’d be when I attend UF…..dating back to elementary school. I have a very deep seated connection with the University of Florida, and its role in my life almost makes it seem like a lifelong friend. From my childhood visits to my eventual acceptance letter, I feel so close to UF because in terms of a collegiate experience its really all I knew. The opportunity of studying abroad for me is everything that life here in Gainesville is not.
I’ve never been to Barcelona, I don’t speak the language, never have traveled without family, and still have much to learn with respect to Spanish culture and customs. I’ll be trading the inextricable bond between comfort, familiarity, and college-life that has defined my experience here for a great deal of unknowns. These unknowns create an emotional tug-of-war between excitement for what lies ahead, and nervousness for the inevitably imperfect journey I’m about to venture on. I have always been somebody who believes what is meant to happen will happen, and have a very visceral feeling that I will overcome these unknowns and that when they do arise they will positively shape my experience. I’m looking forward to taking them head on and molding an unforgettable journey.
On this journey I want to immerse myself in Barcelona like a local, learn new exciting things at Pompeu Fabra, see some of the amazing things Europe has to offer, but more than anything learn about myself and grow as a person. When push comes to shove, I decided to give away this comfort I’ve come accustom to because I believe you grow the most as a person outside of your comfort zone. If my comfort zone is a small confine between University and Archer Road, I’m excited to spend some time away from it between areas like Las Rambla and Park Guell. While there will probably be enduring nerves up until I step off that plane in Barcelona, ultimately I’m ready. I’m ready to leave the campus that has given me a steady supply of memories my entire life for an experience that will give me memories for a lifetime.
See Ya Later Alligator,
Until Next Fall