“Comfort is the enemy of progress.” – Selena Gomez
Before I left to study abroad, I expected a quick, easy adjustment to a summer in Italy. I imagined each day passing faster than the next, visiting and experiencing unbelievable sights, and feeling euphoric 24/7.
However, I quickly learned that this was not necessarily the case.
Sure, I certainly have experienced moments of overwhelming joy and contentment. When I visited Positano, a small city on the Amalfi coast this past weekend, the view of the bright blue water and charming hotels, shops, and houses built in the cliffs literally brought a tear to my eye. However, I have also experienced moments of fear when considering the duration of my program while each day passes much slower than in the United States, frustration and stress when not understanding course material in a very intensive class program, and despite being surrounded by people in a small city, loneliness and homesickness. In short, culture shock is alive and well, folks.
But with the help of my wonderful network of family and friends back home, and professor and classmates in my study abroad program, I have grown to realize that just because I am spending my summer in a picturesque foreign country, that does not mean I am required to feel 110% ecstatic all the time. I am still a human being, it is ok and heck, even normal to face struggles in a period of extreme adjustment.
And even though these waves of culture shock come and go, I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity for growth. I am learning to not let schoolwork get in the way of my education, to find universal constants of stress relief, to experience, rather than just see.
Travel is not always the bright and beautiful pictures posted on social media; it is also your hairdryer frying with the use of the wrong outlet adapter, finding solace in gelato, mustering the courage to share with others the reality of the moment, rather than the desired answer. As quoted above, comfort is the enemy of progress. Although each day brings new challenges, it also brings strength, and as cheesy as it sounds, the opportunity to “find myself”.