Reflection is a seemingly simple concept, but for me has become a fundamental aspect of my Study Abroad experience.
I am talking about the reflection I see in the mirror or as I look out an airplane window, and I am talking about the inevitable self-reflection that takes place during this vastly formative and challenging experience.
Studying abroad is not easy, and when I said my final goodbyes at the airport and boarded my plane, I had never felt so unsure of myself and what I had gotten myself into. It wasn’t until I looked at my reflection in the cramped bathroom of the airplane and told myself I could do this, that I felt I could.
It also wasn’t until I began to keep a journal and reflecting on what was happening during the day that I began to make sense of my experience and see the ways in which I was already growing. That’s what my reflection has become for me: a way for me to see my growth and realize just how far I’ve come.
My physical and self-reflection is how I’ve marked my journey along the way, always remembering when it was last that I saw my reflection or self-reflected. When you’ve found everything in your life to be new and different, it’s calming to see a familiar face.
My physical reflection is also a great reminder of just how cool of a journey I am on, especially when I catch eyes with myself in the grandiose mirrors you find in palaces and castles. It’s not everyday you see yourself looking back at you with the gaudy furnishings of King Frederick III’s bedroom surrounding you; those moments are cool and leave lasting impressions.
Some of my strongest memories come from moments of reflection and moments where I caught myself in my reflection and mouthed the words “wow” as a weird way of communicating to myself that what I was doing was super cool, as if I didn’t already know.
At the end of the day, studying abroad is an amazing experience not only because of its inherent nature of adventure and exploration, but also because of how formative it is on a personal level. It challenges you in new ways on a daily basis, and for me reflection was my way of working through those challenges and making sense of the growth that inevitably began to take place inside of me.
It’s not something you normally think about, but your reflection is your own. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that this study abroad experience is mine and mine alone. Therefore, I’ve found my reflection to be a very important aspect of my experience.
So if you find yourself studying abroad, already back from studying abroad, or planning to study abroad, I encourage you to do some reflection of your own. Your reflection is yours alone and is a tool to make sense of your dreams, aspirations and experiences: three things you are bound to think about when it comes to studying abroad.