Editor's Column: I'm a believer
Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
If you, like me, are a frequent YouTube viewer, you'll remember the clip titled "Charlie the Unicorn" in which Charlie's friends guilt him into going to Candy Mountain. One of my former roommates was an avid Charlie fan and repeated this clip over and over in succession for weeks. I often imagined myself stabbing her with a unicorn horn - out of love, of course - but now I can officially say a big thank you to her for allowing me to memorize every aspect of Charlie's adventure.
I bring this up, because, much like Charlie was shunned as the non-believer (i.e. "Shuuuuuun, shun the non-believer"), I too have often been shunned. The reason is quite simple: I didn't go abroad.
I know exactly what you are doing at this moment … you are judging me. "What? Why wouldn't you want to go abroad and experience the world?" Yeah, yeah … I know. I've only been told 432,051 times since freshman year what a remarkably amazing experience it is to be immersed in another culture and do so on your own terms. I mean, I run the World Record column for a reason. And honestly, I think those of you who did study abroad or plan to should be congratulated on your bravery. It's not easy to go to a new place for the first time - often with little knowledge of the language or customs - especially if that place is oceans away from everything you know and everyone you love. I guess I just didn't have it in me.
People often ask me whether I regret not going abroad and staying at Boston College for that extra semester when all of my friends - and all three of my roommates from fall semester - left me to study in exotic locales such as Ecuador, Germany, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, and Spain. With over 70 programs in 30 different countries, it's impossible not to fall in love with at least one location; but my roots needed BC soil, at least for a little bit longer.
I'll admit that it was lonely, specifically spring semester when almost everyone I knew, and a good portion of my closest friends, left to discover themselves and have an experience of a lifetime. I'll also admit I was jealous, particularly when everyone returned and often discussed and reminisced about their travels with their newfound friends. Some of my closest companions at BC began hanging out exclusively with their abroad friends. Not only did I miss them during these intervals, but I selfishly wanted to be a part of their experience. I wanted to be one of the people they danced with on a table in a bar in Italy or the person tightly gripping their hand when they were chased by police in the Cairo desert. I wanted to spend my Spring Break travelling through Europe with many other college students instead of here in Boston. I didn't want to feel like an outsider in a friendship forged so long before their experiences abroad. But I knew that these experiences made them more aware of the world and gave them memories that they have fondly looked back upon. For that, I realize that their time spent away was both valuable and important, not only for them but also for our friendship.
With graduation quickly approaching, I've been looking back on my time here and making a mental note of things I would have done differently. Not going abroad, however, was never one of them. Do I want to one day back-pack through Europe? Absolutely. Do I want to experience Africa, see the pyramids, and ride a camel? Of course. Do I yearn to travel to South America and immerse myself in that culture? There's no doubt. Do I regret spending both semesters of my junior year on BC's campus rather than visiting the Eiffel Tower? Never. Maybe, like Charlie, I am hesitant to go to Candy Mountain and experience all that it has to offer. But - I insist - I'm not a non-believer.