So, we have arrived at last at the end of our semester and the end of our journey rapidly approaches. Within the next week and a half, we will be returning to our homes and families across the United States but leaving behind our new home and new European family. It makes for a bittersweet experience. I had my last class period this afternoon (appropriately it was the study abroad cross-cultural class) and now only one final and a handful of projects remain.
Normally, this would be a time of joy and excitement at my home university, because it means that break quickly approaches. Yes, it meant leaving places and people who have grown to mean a great deal to me. Yet at home, I knew that I would see them within a month.
For Klaipeda and my LCC friends, I have no way of knowing when, or if, I will see them again. Every moment I spend with them means so much more as a result. Each moment and memory must be cherished like it could be the final one. Facebook and the internet help quite a bit with keeping in touch, certainly, but it is not the same. Internet contact can only do so much and cannot replace true human interaction. As academic work piles up and deadlines loom ominously close, it makes it necessary to assess priorities.
In America, we can easily fall into the trap of prioritizing the urgent over the important, as my mother likes to say. We place what seems to create the most pressure over what’s actually important. For many of us studying at university, that ends up with us placing more importance on academics than the people around us, and before we realize, our time university is finished and we have missed out on so many opportunities to invest in relationships with the people around us when they are the ones that will really matter in the long-run.
That is something we have needed to choose every day in Klaipeda and it has paid off. This semester is full of memories and friendships that we have poured time and energy into, and they are strong, genuine friendships that cross international borders.
It’s relationships like these that begin to change the world and it has been an incredible opportunity to forge some of them this semester.
This is the last post for this semester and I will leave you with this: be a risk-taker, build friendships with others around you, embrace differences, learn from them, and celebrate the similarities that we all share.
Next time you hear from this blog, it will likely be next year’s social media team. Welcome them as warmly as you welcomed us. Thank you so much for reading, liking, and commenting. We hope you have enjoyed the glimpses of our semester as much as we have enjoyed sharing them.
Go in peace, have a happy holiday season, and may your next year be wonderful!