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Learning to Love Myself on my Year Abroad – LeedsUniAbroad
- December 2, 2020
- Posted by: Aradhana Pandey
- Category: Education
I went into my year abroad with high expectations for what I would get out of it – a broader world view, new friends, new experiences – and don’t get me wrong, I definitely got to experience all of these things during my time in Montreal. But overall, my biggest take away was learning that in order to love my trip to Canada, I had to love the person I was spending my time with.
Not to say I didn’t love myself before but throwing myself into life in a country where I didn’t know anyone made me confront who I see myself as, and so I decided to take this opportunity to stop holding myself back, and to start doing things for me.
I started out small. Going to the supermarket on my own my first day in Quebec and testing out my new independence in a country where nobody knew me. I was a blank slate here, ready to grow and fill every corner of my mind with new ways of living, new people, a new life. Knowing that no one expects anything of you, that you can be yourself as much as you want and that’s who people will see you as was such a freeing thought. It might not seem like much now, but this was just the beginning of truly taking my life into my own hands.
I didn’t spend all of my time alone of course, I made some amazing friends, both Canadian and fellow exchange students, but I learned that I don’t have to rely on other people to hold my hands and accompany me in everything that I do.
I started taking myself out for food when my friends weren’t available, going to local concerts of bands I would never have heard of otherwise, hiking up Mont Royal with just the snow beneath my boots and the frost in the air for company. True, these were experiences that are great to do with friends, but at the end of the day, I realised the person I was closest too and could count on the most was, in fact, me. Being so self-sufficient granted me a new level of freedom. If you had told me a year ago that I could wake up early on a Saturday morning and decide on the spot to hike up a mountain on my own there is no way I would’ve believed you, yet that’s exactly what I did.
I love my own company, whether I’m walking through the city listening to music or to my own thoughts, and I am grateful to myself for going on all the adventures I wanted to go on. My confidence has boosted so much in the past year, and I can’t wait to continue taking myself on adventures now that I’m back in the UK.
By Abigail Auvray – Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Canada
*Entry to the 2019/20 Study Abroad Blog Competition*