It’s finally here. Classes are over, final exams are taken, (most of) my clothes are packed into my suitcase – my semester abroad is, to my dismay, coming quickly to an end. As soon as I set foot in Europe, I made a countdown on my phone to keep track of the days until my return. I remember when that countdown was over 100 days and I couldn’t wait for it to be in the double digits. Then the double digits came and I remember texting my friends keeping them updated as well: “83 days! 77 days!” When it got closer to 45 and then 30 days left, my excitement about going home turned into anxiety about leaving. Next thing I knew, my countdown was in the single digits and today when I look at my homescreen, it informs me that I go home in exactly 1 day. Tomorrow.
As cliche as it sounds, it’s such a bittersweet moment. While I have missed my family and friends at home, I have made new friends that became family over these last few months. I actually didn’t expect to be as attached to these people as I am – it usually takes me years to adjust to a new place so making such good friends in a few short weeks was an unexpected but welcome surprise. Where six months ago, these people were only profile pictures and posts in a Facebook group, they are now some of the most important people in my life. I don’t want to say goodbye to them!
And then of course there is Salzburg itself. My beautiful second home! I have gotten so used to waking up and seeing the Untersberg on my walk to the bus stop, strolling down the Getreidegasse to do a little souvenir shopping, and eating countless pretzels, apfel strudel, and schnitzel. This town has totally captured my heart and I am positive that this will not be my last trip here – in fact, the saving for the next trip will hopefully commence as soon as my jobs pick back up in the fall.
This whole trip has been such an amazing experience and it’s kind of funny because I wasn’t even supposed to be here. I spent all of my second semester sophomore year and first semester junior year telling anyone that would listen that I was going to Disney World. Yup, Disney World. They offer a college program there that I so desperately wanted to be a part of but when the applications rolled out, I promptly filled mine out and sent it back….and got rejected. I was so upset but knew that I wanted a backup plan. I did some research into studying abroad and settled on Limerick, Ireland. Actually, all of my paperwork for Southwestern said “Limerick, Ireland” but the day before I turned it in, my mom asked, “Are you sure you want to go to Ireland?” I was skeptical. “Um, yes. Why?”
“Well AIFS also offers a program in Salzburg, Austria.” I was taken aback but heard her out and after a short discussion, crossed out all my Limericks and changed them to Salzburgs and turned in the paperwork. Again, cliche, but the rest is history. And I could not be happier that Disney World rejected me (Disney World, if you’re reading this….I’m applying again for Summer 2014. Don’t count me out too soon!). Without the rejection, I would not have met the most life-changing people, seen the most beautiful cities in the world, and had the time of my life.
The end of this semester also wraps up my traveling blog. I’m going to attempt to get back into the cooking blog but we’ll see where it goes. Regardless, thank you for coming along with me on my amazing journey! I have truly appreciated every supportive comment, every, “like,” and every prayer that was sent up for me.
So I’m not entirely sure how to say goodbye – to these people or to this town. I’m sure there will be many tears (thank God for waterproof mascara) and lots of hugs but I hope that they’re not goodbyes, simply, “See you later!”s.
I’ll be back, Salzburg!