I leave for my semester abroad in France exactly one month from today. I’ve never had bad homesickness or hesitation about taking off far away from everybody I know and even leaving behind a lot of technology… but this time I’ve really gotten thinking about the goodbye process. Sure, it’s not forever… but it is daunting. I’ve never left the country for more than a month before. I’ve never been away from my hometown for more than three months straight. And I’ve never traveled without at least one blood relative by my side.
So, this time goodbye feels like a much more solemn event. I’ll be leaving my university in a week and a half and won’t see these beautiful faces for about 8 months. Some of them will have graduated by the time I return. Will others simply forget about me after such a long span of time? It’s a sobering consideration.
Let’s assume that they all care dearly about me and will eagerly await my return. I have to wonder if I’m making a mistake by not putting aside more time to see them now, but I rather want to do well on my finals. Looming goodbyes seem to have a dangerous affect of making it more difficult than ever to balance academics and a social life. That’s a side-affect that I hadn’t considered previously.
Then there’s my family and best friend. I’ll have two weeks with them… and I’ll spend lots of that time preparing for France. But will the goodbye even feel real when I intend on using Skype to contact them on a regular basis? It seems odd that this is the goodbye that I’m least worried about. Perhaps because those who are closest to us will fight tooth and nail to stay in contact. So if they really matter, goodbye is less scary? I’ll have to keep that reassuring thought in the back of my mind throughout December!
And yet.. the daunting task of goodbyes still can’t temper the excitement simmering beneath the surface at all times. Goodbyes are hard… but when they lead to something amazing I think it’s a pretty good trade-off. I felt the same when I left my hometown to start college. It was hard to release those “final” hugs… but then I got on campus and it was completely worth the pain of leaving them all behind for a little while.