I vividly remember a few months ago running with my friend from Middlebury through the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina on a cold, rainy Sunday. We were a bit lost and quickly running further and further into an unfamiliar neighborhood. We were looking around us at the run-down buildings, not catching even a glimpse of sun and pounding our tired feet on hard pavement. We were keeping fairly quiet and just running, hoping to soon see a landmark that would orient us in the city. We were speeding up and both pretty antsy, and I looked to her and said, “Just imagine, in a few weeks, we will be back at Middlebury, in the hot summer, running on the Trail Around Middlebury through the plush, green woods, breathing in cows and grass and proctor granola, knowing exactly where we are.” The thought of being back at Middlebury and running together from our senior year housing was unbearably exciting and felt like an unimaginable dream. Ironically, a few weeks before leaving for abroad, I am sure that we had a similar conversation about how excited we were to soon be in a huge city, speaking solely our beloved second language of Spanish and being far from the words organic and snow. Sure enough, leaving Middlebury and seeing the world from a completely different angle was unbelievably necessary and rewarding. I absolutely loved being abroad in a place that was essentially the opposite of Middlebury for a semester, and I was extraordinarily happy during my semester abroad. However, I would say that the greatest part of being abroad was coming back to Middlebury. Towards the end of abroad, it didn’t seem real that I was not only coming back to live in the United States again, but that I had one more year to spend at Middlebury College. Before leaving, I took for granted that I was constantly surrounded by my best friends along with a couple thousand remarkable peers all of whom were eager to talk, eat, run, walk, play or simply hang out at most hours of the day. Being abroad gave me a lot of independent, alone time, as well as daily opportunities to reach out and meet new people from a distinct culture. While I have yet to speak with one friend that has spent time abroad and been disappointed or unhappy with it, I can pretty fairly say that everyone is unbelievably grateful and energized to be back at Middlebury for one last year and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. While leaving and heading powerfully to a new, foreign city is quite stimulating, being able to come back to having delicious meals prepared for you daily, having running courses mapped out through clearly marked trails, living next door to all of your best friends, watching the leaves slowly turn bright colors, taking classes in the language that comes most naturally to you in subjects that most interest you and feeling pretty comfortable pretty much always is the craziest, most thrilling opportunity of all.
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