“Make the decision you think you’ll regret the least”
This is the philosophy that a good friend of mine lives by, and which in some ways I have adopted myself. Over the years, I’ve found that experiences are not truly valuable until they’re memories. This has shaped my study abroad experience immensely.
I constantly have the following questions (and more) running through my mind:
1. Upon returning to the U.S., what will I wish I had done?
2. How much of my trip will I remember?
3. Whose contact information will I wish I’d have gotten?
A number of studies, such as the one listed at the end of this entry, suggest that we tend to regret the things we didn’t do much more than the things we did. For that reason, whenever an opportunity comes up–for example, to go to a boliche (the local term for a club)–I think to myself “Will I regret not going?” and act accordingly.
In order to ensure that I remember my trip fully and accurately, I have made it a point to take pictures and videos wherever I go. I also write a nightly journal entry of 2-3 pages to act as a non-visual reminder of my time here. I don’t think I even realize yet how much these records will mean to me someday.
As for keeping in touch with people, I have had to overcome a lot of my usual reservations. Ordinarily I wouldn’t make plans with someone or ask for their number, but because my program is so short, I know that if I don’t do it now, I never will. I just have to picture how thankful I’ll be 10 years from now that I did ask, and that makes it a little bit easier.
Rather than being an obsession, I believe that viewing my trip through the lens of the future is a beneficial way of thinking: I can enjoy myself in the present moment while ensuring that I can also enjoy the memories when I’m gone.
There is one question about the future that I can’t really plan for: Will anything ever compare to this incredible experience? Only time will tell.
Picture taken at a Suicidal Tendencies concert in downtown Buenos Aires