After a few whirlwind weeks of visitors and traveling all over and sad goodbyes from the students and other assistants, I've found myself in an empty apartment. Just me. A bit of cleaning and planning and relaxing before my next trip to Belgium and Belgrade next week.
I keep feeling that I need to take away something profound from this trip... learn a significant life lesson, or realize my passion and find my path in life, or meet people that will be influential in my life for years to come... in short, "find myself." I never really understood what that dumb little phrase meant, but whatever it means, I want to do it.
I just have no idea what I want to do with my life. That seems to be, no, it is, a common theme for almost everyone I meet my age. Oh screw it, I'll just go to Europe for x number of weeks/months. I have big expectations about what this trip will mean to me, and how it will affect me when I return home. It scares me that it will probably not live up to those expectations, and that that may lessen the trip for me in some way. I won't let that happen!
One thing I do know, this is the trip of my life. I've been fortunate enough to travel a lot, and this is the big defining trip that I will remember forever. No matter what happens or what doesn't happen, and even if I still don't know what I want to do when I return home, I know this experience will stay with me and affect my decisions for years to come.
In keeping with the whole "wanting to take something away from this trip" thing, I really wish I could make something tangible that I could have to remember my time here. I'm abroad for 9 months, and what do I have to show for it? A bunch of pictures I haven't even gone through yet on my computer... a journal with daily ramblings of no real importance, this blog... if only I were a great writer I could write a book about my travel experiences like a lot of other people seem to do. Or build a photography portfolio of all my provocative, amazing shots (hah, yeah right). I seem to be mediocre at both things, writing and photography, but I enjoy them both when I decide to put in some effort. I suppose it doesn't matter what others think if it makes me happy as a hobby.
I can't believe my 7 months of teaching are over... it feels like I didn't even teach them that much. With one session with each class each week, and only 12 hours a week, with 8 weeks of total vacation in there... I really didn't have time to teach that much. Good thing, cause I had no idea what I was doing most of the time! As well as, or even more so than, me getting something out of this trip I really hope the kids got something out of it. Even if they don't remember any English that I taught them, I hope they look back later on this year as a good time in their lives. I had my doubts some days about how much they actually cared that I was there... but the last days in the classes were filled with goodbye parties and gifts and tons of hand-made cards from the kids. Tons, as in, I may need another suitcase just for them. I was on the verge of tears a couple times there... and also cracking up at some of their drawings and nice little notes. I'll have to take pictures of some of them to post later. Classic stuff. I will cherish them always.
This trip has changed me, in ways that I probably won't fully understand until much later. I've met amazing new people, and reconnected with people from my past in new ways that have strengthened our friendships. I've dealt with awkward situations when I've gotten stuck with the whole language barrier. I've tried new things. I've laughed and danced and sung and eaten yummy things and had snowball fights. I will have visited 10 different countries when I'm done with this trip. I've fallen in love... with so many things.
I've grown. I may not know exactly what I want out of life, but I'm a lot closer to finding it than I was a year ago.
And they may not be provocative, but I've got a lot of good pictures. :) I gotta do something with those!