I am preparing to study abroad next semester. So far, this has mainly consisted of curating a new wardrobe on Pinterest, applying for a visa and — on a sadder note — grappling with the knowledge that this would be my last semester with many of my best friends at Hopkins.
It took me longer than I’d like to admit to find my footing at Hopkins. The pandemic re-defined the social experiences I had freshman year; I ended up meeting most of my current best friends as a sophomore.
Now, I find myself hanging out with the same four friends every day and enjoying every second of it. I value every moment with these people, and because of this, I’m terrified to lose them when I go abroad, especially since two of them will be abroad for our senior year.
I think the root cause of this fear has to do with my realization that college is flying by. Yes, as a junior, I still have plenty of time. But on the other hand, I’ll very soon have completed five of my eight semesters. The idea of this chapter of my life ending and a new one starting both excites and terrifies me.
When I scour the Internet for internship postings, I have to think about where I want to work after college, rather than just for a summer. The reality is that my relationships with my friends are going to shift immensely over the next few years as we go abroad, graduate and ultimately move to different cities.
Furthermore, because of how challenging it was to find my best friends at Hopkins, I’m scared to have to orient myself all over again in January. I am the only Hopkins student in my study abroad program, while other students will be coming with classmates from their home schools.
Every day, I grow increasingly aware that I will be thrown into the deep end less than two months from now. It will be on me to make new friends and create some sort of support system for myself in Paris, far from my friends at school in Baltimore and at home on Long Island. I know that this is something I am capable of doing but the lack of certainty about all of it is still difficult to handle.
Even so, I am trying to focus, at least somewhat, on the positives.
In particular, I’m excited about visiting Paris due to the fact that it will represent a culmination of all of the years I have spent preparing to go to a French-speaking destination. It is incredible that I will be going to Paris for four months after taking years and years of French. After so much practice, I feel confident that it is time for me to test out my French skills and immerse myself in the city, culture and cuisine that I have spent years educating myself on.
My life is going to change dramatically, both in terms of freedom and whom and where I will live in close proximity to.
I’ll be able to travel and have loads of new experiences, especially given the convenience of public transportation within and around Paris. I’ll be able to explore a whole new culture and way of living. I’ll also be geographically closer to my best friend from home, who goes to school in England, than I have been since we began university.
All of this being said, while I know that I will miss my friends at school terribly, I am an extrovert at heart and am grateful for the opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with the friends I have that are currently living abroad.
I know that things in Baltimore will be very different when I come back in August. I know that part of me does wish that I could stay. But I also accept that studying abroad is going to spark personal growth and push me out of my comfort zone in new ways — and that my friends and I will be there for one another, regardless of our geographic locations.
Madelyn Kye is a junior from Long Island, N.Y., majoring in Writing Seminars and International Studies. Her column discusses people and things that have entered and exited her life, often through the lens of growing up.