Disclaimer: I am completely happy with my placement, where I am and the people I have met and work with here.

I am more than my year abroad, and I should not be defined by it alone.

I am 21 years old. I have not hit my peak in life. I may be in my 20s, where you have the most opportunities and the least responsibilities, but my year abroad will be just the start of my journey.

My life doesn’t revolve around flights. When I’m home, I get asked when I am going to leave. When I leave, I’m asked when I’m going home. Sure, I have collected a ridiculous amount of air miles, but one could also say the same thing about the amount of time I’ve spent doing other things- like the choir I’ve joined, or the number of tortillas I’ve eaten.

This is just like any other job in many aspects. The early mornings make me cranky, you’re trying to juggle many commitments and you have a flat to upkeep too. Although I’ve been lucky with my school and my lovely colleagues, it’s unrealistic to expect every day to be perfect and fulfilling. It’s not a magical utopia where you can escape life’s burdens and put off finishing your degree.

People have their own expectations of what your year abroad will be like, and when you’re not doing what they expect you to do it almost feels like you’ve failed them, or you’re wasting it. I’m not going to be jetting off to a different country every five minutes. I will make time to visit my friends, sure. I will take this opportunity to explore, absolutely. Will I be going to the other end of Europe any time soon? Probably not. (Unless friendship group mom Abbie organises another adventure)

Saying that, it is a part of my degree that students before me may not have had and students in the future may not even be able to consider. (I’m not thinking about Brexit or anything but… yeah, Brexit) I have a year to try out a job without committing to it for the rest of my life. I have an opportunity to earn much more than the minimum wage without a completed University degree. I can be independent in a way I have never been before.

I am privileged, sure, but I am more than my year abroad.

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