It begins innocuously enough, with a friend telling me she plans to travel for Thanksgiving break. That’s great! Then Thanksgiving becomes Thanksgiving and spring break. Then another friend announces she’s studying abroad next quarter, and a third plans to fly off Spring quarter, and so on and so forth until it seems a good portion of my friends will be gone before the year is over. And here I thought we were going to get through sophomore slump together.
Freshman year, few people go abroad. From time to time, someone will leave for a weekend away or fly during Thanksgiving or spring break, but that’s about it. No matter how busy you get, you know your friends are always around. You start taking for granted having the people you care about around you — the farthest you might have to go to find a friend is from Mirrielees to FroSoCo which, as much as we complain, is only eight minutes or so of biking.
When that changes into eight hours of flying and a similar time difference, things aren’t the same.
Seeing all these people travel and come back with new experiences, memories and tans makes me question my choices. Should I be doing the same? After all, isn’t college a time to explore, take advantage of all the resources this university offers and travel while I have the flexibility to? Maybe. But there is also so much to do on campus — classes to try, people to meet, talks to attend, things to learn.
Particularly as a student with an international background, the “American college experience” is one I am keen to savor. I want to understand football, groan about the legal drinking age, work in collaborative classrooms, get coffee with professors. Being at Stanford, in a sense, is already studying abroad. Hence the dilemma: should I go abroad and expand my horizons, which I have been lucky enough to do in the past already, or should I stay put and learn as much as I can here?
I have not found an answer to that yet, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that friends won’t always be within biking distance or on the same schedule. Despite timezones and the packed calendars, we’ll be around for each other when it matters. And in the meantime, before I fly out myself (if at all), I’ll be here on campus, enjoying the “Stanford experience”and waiting to hear about my friends’ experiences around the world.
Contact Axelle Marcantetti at axellem ‘at’ stanford.edu.