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Gap Year Abroad

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08/26/2015

the beginning

Ingrained in stone on my fireplace are the words: The only constant is change. The words spiraled through my life unnoticed and slightly ominous, but I remember my father repeating to me that I should never forget them. As a young girl in my family I began to learn to accept change and even look for it when needed. And now that I am seventeen and 5,352 miles away from the place with those five words I feel the true impact of change.

As I stood at the kiosk at the Portland Jetport with my family, almost everything I own, and my ticket to Valparaiso, I began to realize what I was doing. Though I was excited, nervous, interested, and a little scared before, it was not until I hugged my dad goodbye that I actualized the fact that I was leaving everything I had ever known behind me. My mind was a breathtaking mix of emotions. I had simply the address of my new home, the names of my family members, and a few other important documents. Never had I been to South America, lived without my family, lived anywhere except Maine, and been anywhere outside of the USA for more than three weeks. Not to mention that I would need to learn conversational Spanish in order to express myself and survive socially. So, basically, I was completely and utterly out of my comfort zone. 

When I arrived in Valparaiso, my world was a whirlwind. From the first person I met my mind was flooded with Spanish while simultaneously basking in the new scenery I now called home. I was overpowered by the unfamiliarity of everything around me. The next two days I explored the city, ate great food, slept my first night in a small hotel, met my new family the next morning, and moved into my new house. 

That was one week ago today. Every single custom in my life is different now. Rules, spoken and unspoken, are unfamiliar. Food and the tradition of food is new to me. The language has made me feel isolated and frustrated with myself, but I am slowly learning. 

Over this past week when I felt overwhelmed, I took a deep breath and remembered to accept the change. In that moment after I exhaled, I felt more confident, and slightly successful from that little piece I had just overcome.

Sometimes change is inevitable, and sometimes we put it upon ourselves. Either way, change is a necessity in being a human. I know little of what is ahead of me in the next four months living in Valparaiso, Chile. But I do know that I will be learning every day. 

As the saying goes, I will always be facing change. Instead of fearing the panic that comes with change, over my Gap Year I am learning to accept change fully. I let it overflow me with worry, but most importantly, welcome that uncertainty with the peacefulness that I am creating myself through this foreign life. Every night I go to bed with a smile knowing that my experiences of the day, no matter how small, are life changing.

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