I’m a little angry, Colgate. Why did no one tell me?
I’ve been excited to study abroad since I was a high school student. I used to spend hours googling places to go, things to see and most importantly, food to eat. I dreamt of being a world traveler, a really romanticized version of myself who burst at the seams with life, experiences and memories, and probably a tattoo I got in Bangkok. Coming to Colgate, I loved that studying abroad during junior year was a norm. I wanted a community of people who valued experiencing the rest of the world, just like I did.
Here I am, with six weeks left in my sophomore year, facing the reality of what it means to leave this place for a semester. I’m getting ready to say goodbye to my best friends, and trying to comprehend how in three months I’m going to literally be on the other side of the world, without them. I guess I’m frustrated because for all the hype that study abroad gets, no one warns you that your relationships will essentially get put on hold.
It’s hard even if the people closest to you all go abroad at the same time, not considering the missed connections between fall and spring study abroad programs. Maybe I’m being melodramatic, saying we essentially hit “pause” on the relationships we have at Colgate while we travel and study abroad. There’s so many ways to keep in touch nowadays, with Facebook, Snapchat, texting, phone calls, dm-ing memes, etc. But, then again, even the dankest of memes can’t substitute for two hours of sitting in Frank, eating double your daily caloric intake and talking. Just talking. Because the best relationships we have are the ones that can mindlessly wander through conversation for hours, and feel like five minutes. Being at the midway point in my Colgate career has made me realize how desperately I want to cling to those people, because I only get them for four years and four years is a lot shorter than I once thought.
I hope you’ve clued into my use of “relationships” rather than “friendships,” because I’ve begun to understand how the incentive to study abroad at Colgate also disincentivizes students from dating and fuels the fire of hookup culture. I know so many people who, halfway through sophomore year, are starting to want romance and commitment and won’t allow themselves to pursue it because they’re about to go abroad. It’s understandable; going from the honeymoon phase directly into long distance, separated by continents and oceans, is no simple feat. It’s like learning to swim by getting thrown into the waves. Sounds painful, right? No one wants to go through that, so people fill the void with the games of hookup culture until they get off campus, hoping maybe, just maybe, they’ll meet a beautiful Spanish man and never go back.
I don’t have any solutions to this; it really seems to be the nature of the beast. This is my attempt to give you the warning I didn’t have. Your time at Colgate, your chance to foster relationships with the people you find here, is brief, and it will be interrupted. It will run like water through your fingers.
Anyways, who has ideas for the tattoo I’m getting in Bangkok?
Contact Kate Hinsche at [email protected]