Looking Back and Heading Forward

I recently received my letter to myself that I wrote a few weeks before I left for Brussels. I definitely encourage you to do this and I’m so glad that the study abroad office got us to reflect on what we wanted to get out of our study abroad experiences. It was such a nice blast from the past seeing what I thought I would be doing once I got here and what my mentality was before deciding to embark on this wonderful adventure.

Reading my letter, I could remember some of the misconceptions I had about coming abroad. I think one of the big things I expected from studying abroad is that I would shed my past self and become a whole new person. This is true to an extent. The person I was before I stepped onto the plane headed for Brussels vs. now are kinda different. I have seen things and been to places I’d only ever see in pictures. I have met amazing people and learned many things from them.


However, at my core, I’m still Nicole.


I will be heading back to my friends and family with cool stories to share and hopefully a sense of self-assuredness that comes with having seen more of the world and learned about yourself along the way. But a lot of the same quirks and hardships I faced at home, I still face here.


Looking at my list of things I wanted to accomplish while studying abroad, I can confidently say I have done or am making good progress on achieving all of them.


I challenged myself to make new friends and take every opportunity to do things or meet new people if offered. At home, I’m used to staying in and not meeting new people or going to events as often as I should. Here, that definitely isn’t a problem! Vesalius, my internship and study abroad in general gives you so many chances to meet new people.


I also wanted to work on small personal things like style, being more open and coping mechanisms for stress. These are definitely more in the work in progress section but I’m making headway. I like to think of it as laying the foundation for the personal growth I’d like to continue beyond this study abroad experience.


The letter from myself was a nice chance to look back at who I was when I first left Philly, who I am now, and anticipate even more growth before the end of my Brussels adventure.