What makes saying goodbye so hard is not knowing when exactly you'll be saying Hello again. Saying goodbye to the fantastic friends, or what I refer to as my "Australian family", was the saddest thing I have ever done. When I said goodbye to my family here in the U.S. I knew I would see them again in five months, so it was sad but not too sad. I am lucky enough to have not experienced any tragic losses in my life thus far, therefore I have not felt real grief. Beacuse of this lucky fact, I was shocked by how hard it was for me to say goodbye to the friends I made in Australia. Five of my friends , 4 from Chile (Mona, Mauricio, Traudy and Sara), and 1 from France (Thomas) took me to the airport at 6 am the morning of my departure. Up until 5 minutes before I HAD to leave we were all smiles and laughs just like we had been for the last 5 months, sipping our coffees and crackin' our inside jokes. However, the last 5 minutes of tear-filled goodbyes...well "see you laters" was incredibly sad. As I forced myself to step onto the escalator to descend to my departure I turned around to see my friend singing "our" song, and the tears turned into a river! Saying goodbye to my host family and other friends was just as hard, and certainly full of tears as well.
Although it was the saddest and hardest thing I have ever done, I think that goes to show what an enriching experience I really did have. It was the best decision I have made this far in life. The trip enabled me to truly learn about myself. We sometimes think we know all we need to know about ourselves, but I believe going to a foreign place with no one but yourself forces you to get to know yourself, and deeply...down to the flesh of who you really are. Sometimes it is not easy, and it is certainly eye-opening but for me it was necessary and I am a changed person because of it. The people I met helped shaped who I have become as well, they were incredibly real and down to earth people, and I have many many cherished memories with them that I will never forget.
It is not easy at first,there are days you are cursing yourself for doing it, and there are many bumps in the road, but after a certain point those bumps disipate and it is all downhill from there, and it is all smiles, adventures. I strongly encourage anyone able to, to go abroad - it will be a life changing experience you will never regret. You will learn who you truly are, you will learn a new culture, you will meet amazing people from all over the world, and you will see fantastic sites....really, why not do it?! It is one of the most self-enriching things you can do for yourself!
So, a month after returning home as I reflect back on the experience I am nothing but smiles. I beam whenever anyone asks about how it was, and I am eager to share all my experiences with anyone. I know that the goodbyes are not forever, and I am certain I will see those wonderful friends I made again sometime..sooner rather than later, mates! I live by a wonderful quote I once read:
"Do not cry because it is over, but smile because it happend!"