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Playlist: My Study Abroad Told By Songs

Music has such a powerful way of touching our emotions. They make us think back to certain events in our lives in several ways. Sometimes it is the lyrics of the song that make you think of a loved one, or it’s the time the song came out that makes you think back to that memorable summer. Music always reminds of us who we were, what we did, and where we were.

Having been home after my study abroad adventure for two months, several songs come up on my playlist that take me back to the series of emotional stages I endured while home, from feeling homesick to not wanting to leave such a wonderful place when my internship forced me to return home abruptly. Here are some songs that will continue to touch me and take me back to the best eight months of my life.

  • “I Have Confidence” – The Sound of Music: This song best captures the pre-jitters that rumbled my nerves the moment I got on the plane to London Heathrow. I had just endured the painful process of saying goodbye to all who mattered and trying to pack everything I needed, that I barely had time to worry about what was in store for me. The moment I sat down to mentally prepare myself for being transported to another country in just 10 hours, I felt excited yet anxious. Excited, because my dream of going abroad in Europe was about to come true; I wanted this so bad. Anxious, because I knew adjusting to a new lifestyle and atmosphere was going to be what we call culture shock. But I knew to be optimistic, or as Maria said, “stop all these doubts and these worries”.
  • “Touch the Sky” – Julie Fowlis: No song can better capture the life-changing moment I stepped out of my hotel and explored London on my own for the first time. I was all alone, with no one to keep me company. I was still a very cautious person at the time; I was afraid to take risks. I also didn’t have a UK phone plan yet, so the risk of getting lost was even greater. Back in the States, I relied on my GPS for EVERYTHING and so this was the first time I had to actually test my sense of direction. But I knew this was the first step to embracing my surroundings. The moment I ventured out, I felt free: free from expectations, pressure, doubt. I knew the relief of not having to worry when taking a risk.
  • “Europe’s Skies” – Alexander Rybak: Okay, minus the fact that I did get to trek around Europe very often, my determination to make Europe my new home was no different. I only had eight months to get the most out of my experience and so I had to get over my fears fast and start exploring. This was my first time ever traveling alone, and I absolutely loved the freedom of having the power to forge my own path. By the time my travels ended, I felt I left an old part of myself in every city, and left as  a different person: someone more knowledgeable, confident, and adventurous.
  • “For Good” – Wicked: This is a song about two parting friends, and I think it best captures how I felt about being pulled away from this new place I could call home. When I left, I didn’t know when I would be coming back, or when would I next see the friends whose company I treasured throughout my journey. The great uncertainty of what lay in the future made the anxiety overwhelming. I knew the intense feeling of missing my friends in London was going to be far more powerful than the waning homesickness I harbored for my life in California. But one thing was for sure, I was coming back a person whose life was entirely re-written because of the people I met. I learned so much from people I wouldn’t meet back home, and I realized that an adventure isn’t defined by where you went or what you saw. It is the people you got to know and how they made you feel that matter. You may have pictures of every monument or building or saw, but pictures don’t always capture the impact your friends had on your life. Because I knew them, I have been changed for good.
  • “In My Life” – The Beatles: I’m now in the final stage where I have learned to close the distance of more than 5,000 miles. But still, not a day goes by where I don’t think of the beautiful city that is London. I don’t think it ever will. But, life goes on and it moves fast. Upon returning home I had to get situated back into the Pacific time zone and prepare for my internship in San Diego. My routine was changing so rapidly that keeping up with friends during my time abroad was hard. Even though we don’t chat all the time, I still think of them often and check in to see how they are doing on Facebook. I still go through the many thousands of pictures I took during my time abroad and continue to smile as I remember the feeling of my spirit being lifted.

More songs on my playlist:

What are some songs that make you think back to an adventure?

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