Grace, Outbound to Croatia

1 month and 4 days back home.

Although my year abroad has come to an end, I wanted to upload one final blog post now that my life at “home” has returned to normal.

Let me catch you up

Since my last blog post in March a lot has happened. The last few months of my exchange were extraordinary and filled with enough joy to compensate for any early morning or late night I suffered during the year.

Towards the end of March my class took a weekend trip to Rijeka, Croatia. The trip, while short, provided lots of laughs, memories, and bonding. I will always remember the time we spent together in those 3 days as one of my favorite memories.

My family came to visit me immediately after my class trip, we spent a few days in Vienna and then one week in Dubrovnik. It was a bittersweet, action packed reunion. I really enjoyed showing them around my city, and introducing them to everyone in my life, however the reality that I would be heading home sooner than later set it in…hard.

Immediately after my family left, my class took a weekend trip to Rijeka, Croatia. The trip, while short, provided lots of laughs, memories, and bonding. I will always remember the time we spent together in those 3 days as one of my favorite memories.

In early May, I flew to Paris to see my mom for 4 days. Paris, a city I have dreamt of visiting since age 10, did not disappoint. We packed in enough museums, monuments, and baguettes in for 7 days (or more).

At the very end of May, I went on Euro Tour!! For 15 days myself and 70 other exchange students travelled throughout France and Italy. Although I spent enough time on a bus to last me a lifetime, and had very little sleep…I would not trade those 15 days for anything. The highlight of the trip was visiting Monte Carlo for 4-5 hours during the F1 Grand Prix!! I did not live near exchange students during my year, so the time I enjoyed with them on Euro Tour meant very much to me.

In between all of the travelling and reunions, I simply enjoyed myself with my friends. While all of our coffees and card games made it that much harder to say goodbye, I could not be more thankful for them.

It’s Over??

Almost 2 years ago when I began the journey of becoming a Rotary Exchange Student, I never imagined the ways in which it would change my life. I remember sitting through meetings and orientations finding it hard to believe that my year would be as unforgettable as those who came before me…boy was I wrong.

The 10 months that I spent in a city and country I had barely heard of, have been the best 10 months of my life. It is impossible to appreciate the beauty of certain moments, while you are experiencing them, but the memories you’re left with are just as good, if not better. My year was hard. I didn’t wake up every day over the moon excited, or go to bed each night happy, however reflecting on the good times and the things I have gained completely negates every bad emotion I felt throughout the year. I won’t ever forget how difficult the low times were, or how strong they made me, but the pros outweigh the cons from this year 100 to 1.

I could type 50 pages on every laugh, sunset, or cat that made this year as amazing as it was, but I will keep those for myself. This year I travelled, I learned, I grew, and most importantly…I loved. When I look back 1, 5, and 20 years from now the thing that will always remain in my heart, are the friends I made. I miss them every day, and could not be more thankful to have met them. They taught me acceptance, a new language, and perseverance. They were the rainbow at the end of every thunderstorm and the brightest lights on every sunny day. I did not realize I had it in my heart to love 12 people I met only 10 months ago, but they made it easy. I owe them my year, and hope they enjoyed their time with me as much as I enjoyed mine with them.

Now that I am home, everything looks a little different. I feel as though I can conquer any obstacle life throws at me, and I appreciate all the little things about life that I payed no mind to before.

Exchange gave me strength, maturity, love, memories, opportunities, and above all happiness, and I would recommend to every person in the world if I could.

I will forever be thankful for this incredible experience. I will forever think of Dubrovnik as my home. I will forever want to travel and explore. I will forever love people from every corner of the world. Most importantly, I will forever know that happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

Thanks for coming along for the journey,

Catch ya on the flip side,

Gracija

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