I’m sure you’ve heard of the term YOLO, meaning “you only live once” and it’s a phrase that’s become of particular interest to me. It’s true we only live once, and its good to make the most out of life but when we live do we really live? Are we doing all we could be doing? Seeing what we want to see, being who we want to be? That’s what I wondered about myself. We of course can’t live adventure every minute of the day, but life should have some sense of adventure every once in awhile. It sometimes can come unexpectedly or something you create for yourself. I always waited for something to happen to me. I’m not sure what that something was, anything I suppose. Something that would be exciting, fun, memorable all at once and a good story to tell at Christmas dinner, but sadly I still have no stories to tell. I was always waiting for life to give me something, but I have to give myself to life, and take what it offers. I think studying abroad is a good start to this. It’ll give me adventure and great stories to tell family and friends. It’s opening my eyes to new surroundings and gaining new insight. It’s everything I ever wanted to do.
But can I do it? Am I brave enough? I had decided a few years ago that I wasn’t “able” to do that sort of thing. In my first year of university I was ill with mononucleosis which led to me developing depression and anxiety. I was not able to cope on my own, and I ended up having to move home and take a year off from work and school. I was very fragile which led to my family having to look after me, and I could not shake my anxious thoughts. I used to be care free and ready for anything, but at that time I was paranoid, scared about everything and was homesick when I was away for a weekend. So my dreams of traveling and studying abroad didn’t seem to be in my future. I soon overcame my anxiety and depression but I still kept putting myself down, and convincing myself I could never go abroad. However, deep down I really wished I could go and find adventure on my own.
Last Christmas I found the study abroad page on my schools website and I looked at all the list of schools around the world where students could study. When I was reading about the program I felt a pain in my stomach, wishing I was brave enough to do it. My boyfriend Shane noticed I was looking at the site and said, “Why can’t you do it?” I told him all my excuses but he of course wouldn’t buy it. He told me I was very capable of going abroad, and if I truly wanted to go, I should. He believed in me, and with that support I thought it could be a reality for me. When school started in January I went to the international activities office and spoke with the advisor. After deciding to go, a lot changed for me. I decided from then on I would live life to the fullest and do the things I wanted. Right now what I want is to go to Sweden and have a life changing experience. I know everything will not go perfectly but all I can do is at least try and enjoy every moment. I just want to go with the flow, and just take it day by day.
Having the confidence to study abroad wouldn’t be possible without the support of my family and friends. They believe I can do this, so I should I should believe in myself, and I do. I still have a few months to go with a lot of things to do and many things I want to accomplish and I’m just excited for what’s ahead.
Things I want to accomplish (YOLO)
1. Go to Sweden!
2. Pack light (learn how to vacuum seal my clothes)
3. Find adventure for myself
4. Get over my fear of flying (no hyperventilating and scaring the passengers beside me)
5. Meet People from all over the world (convince people that Canadians don’t say eh all the time and live in igloos)
6. Relax (stop stressing that people will steal my food from the fridge)
7. Get Lost (and not freak out)
8. Go to the ABBA Museum
9. Take a chance…..on me? (refer to # 8)
10. Go on a roller coaster (I think I can hyperventilate for this one)
11. See the Norway fjords (thanks Roald Dahl)
12. Go on a Baltic cruise (try and convince dad)
13. Learn Swedish (not by watching the Swedish chef on the Muppets)
14. Go To Poland (eat perogies!)
15. Go to Holland (Amsterdam!)
16. Go to Britain (to find Harry Potter)
17. Go to Ireland (kiss the blarney stone)
18. Learn to cook (LOL)
19. Try not to gain weight (treadmill time)
20. Eat yummy/different food (probably will not help accomplish # 19)
21. Gain independence
22. Not be afraid
23. Live life to the fullest from here on