It is officially less than fourteen days until I leave Oslo. I can’t believe that my time here is almost gone. While I’m excited to leave, as I’ve said in previous post, I am also very sad. With less than two weeks left before I leave I have really been thinking about my time here, the people I’ve met, and the places I have been able to experience. Norway has been an amazing time. I have truly loved every moment including all the ups and all the downs.
When I first came here, I really struggled with settling in. It was very difficult for me to find my place here and to feel like I belonged. It was also very difficult to be away from home and for a while I actually contemplated leaving. I missed home so much and missed my friends and family. I felt like I was in way over my head and dealt with some depression for the first two to three months of my time here. I was struggling to make friends and found myself isolating myself even more.
For the first few months I would go to school, come to my dorm, and hide away. Every day I would just sit in my room unsure of myself and my decisions. I felt very lost for a while and it was hard for me to do basics things. I realized after a few months though that I was in fact hurting myself. Yes, it is hard to find friends here but isolating yourself doesn’t make it easier. Yes, it is easy to feel lost when you first settle into a new environment but wallowing in that only makes it worse.
After months of isolating myself and helping my depression manifest even more I realized I needed to really make changes if I wanted to be happy. As I spoke about in previous post one of the first few things I began doing was going out alone. If I wanted to go see the opera house then I went alone. If I wanted to take a hike or have a cookout then I did it alone.
At first, it felt really strange but I began to realize that there is nothing wrong with being in your own company. There is nothing wrong with experiencing life alone. I also joined a few student associations and became very active. I went to every event I could, I actively participated in activities, and meet-up. I put myself out there and soon I saw that people beginning to exclusively inviting me to outside activities. I also participated in classes and seminars more. I spoke up and spoke my mind I raised my hand.
These small steps made a huge difference in how my study abroad went but what helped the most was the personal goals I made for myself. I began journaling as often as possible writing down everything from my dreams to my long-term goals. I began exercising a few days a week. I quit smoking cigarettes and started eating healthier and even though I made friends I continued to go out and do things alone. I went on walks, saw movies, went to different markets, and took day trips out of town- all alone. And it stopped feeling like a necessity to get myself out of the house and something I actively needed to help me clear my head.
If I can say one thing about study abroad is that it is what you make it. In the beginning, my study aboard could have gone very badly. I could have continued to let my depression control me but instead I decided to take advantage of this amazing opportunity that was placed in front of me. I decided to embrace every aspect of it the good, the bad, and the strange and I am so happy I did.
I am even happier for the support system that brought me here. My home advisors who helped me not only to get here but continued to guide me throughout this experience. My family and friends who were always there to listen to my fears and insecurities and the scholarships like FEA who made all this possible.
I would not be here, would not have gotten this far, and would not be this happy if it weren’t for each and every one of these people and organizations who continuously believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I will be writing at least two more post on this blog. One at the end of the month when I’m finally settled in at home and one in June to speak about the transition of moving from one country to another. This experience may be ending but I feel like it is the beginning to something amazing.