By Abby Day
When I opened my laptop to write this post, my automated “scenic views” scrolling desktop background landed on the unmistakable nighttime skyline view of Buda Castle from Buda Hill. My heart broke a little bit for the temporary home that I left behind after an unforgettable summer abroad. I’m an adventure seeker; I’m always itching to get out of my comfort zone and out of my routine. I went abroad to break away from everything I’ve always known. I’ve spent all 20 of my years living in Georgia, and while I love my life here, I know there’s so much more to find in this big wide world.
It’s easy to find adventure abroad. My pals and I got into our fair share of exhilarating moments, and while those moments were enlivening and exactly what I was hoping for, it was the more mundane moments that will affect the entirety of my life moving forward. It was the long list of entrepreneurs who found a way to make a sustainable and profitable philanthropy that spoke to us during class and mentored us throughout our program. It was the leaders in the migrant communities in Budapest that told me their stories during my internship with Subjective Values and spoke passionately about the changes their people needed. It was sprinting to catch the 17 tram back to Karolina and waking up at 4 AM to catch a bus to Croatia and praying that it would show up to this completely unmarked bus stop someone gestured at in Hungarian when we showed them our tickets.
It was looking for the perfect moment to take my daily Polaroid picture. It was playing camp games at Bator Tabor and feeling like a little kid again. It was making homemade pasta and drying it on the boys’ clothes rack next to their damp boxers because that was pretty much all we had. It was buying a grill so we could celebrate the 4th of July in true American fashion. It was seeing the best lunch ladies on the planet cry when we brought them thank you flowers at our last lunch at the school. It was the search for the cheapest/biggest/most delicious ice cream cone in Budapest, and the 3 AM runs for kebabs in Móricz Zsigmond körtér. It was Carl and Joseph digging through the trash for the entirety of our weekend in Berlin because turning in a plastic water bottle to a recycling center got you .25 euros.
It wasn’t really walking 10 miles with our luggage from the Lake Balaton train station to our hotel where are rooms were a comfy 85 degrees and my bed broke in half, but that’s still a cool story. But it definitely was the conversations we had when we climbed the green bridge to watch the sunset over that same castle. Island hopping in the Adriatic Sea and exploring hidden caves and tropical beaches was without a doubt the greatest day of my life, but I only have those mundane moments to blame for my extraordinary personal growth.
Going abroad brought out a piece of me that I would have never found otherwise. I guarantee anyone who has gone abroad would say the same thing. I experienced enriching and unique classes that you can’t find on Tech’s campus and discovered how to feel normal when everything is entirely foreign. The feeling I had after coming home and knowing that chapter of my life is over hurts like a… ya know, but how lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.