(n.) pleasure alloyed with pain.
Bittersweet is the exact word I would use to describe the feeling I have for leaving Europe after living here for two months. As excited as I am to go home and see my family, boyfriend, and friends, it is hard to leave such a good thing behind. My experience in Europe was all that I ever imagined and more. I experienced so many new things - new people, new cultures, new languages, new ways of living. Everything I experienced was a learning lesson and allowed me to grow in many different ways. My view of the world has widened immensely. My appreciation for differences has grown stronger. My adventurous side has expanded. My love for new experiences and travel has definitely changed as well. I 100% have the travel bug, and after such an amazing summer of travel, I know my adventures from here can only come more frequently and hopefully get even better. I feel like I am refreshed and happier version of who I was when I left the US just eight weeks ago. After living amongst Europeans who live a more relaxed culture than Americans (relaxed in the sense that they don't allow stress to control their lives), I have a newfound appreciation for breathing. Not psychically breathing (which is always, always important), but an appreciation for taking a breath and stopping to look at and enjoy what's around me. I understand the importance of me time, family time, and friend time more than I ever had before. I understand how valuable sitting down for a few hours, doing nothing "productive," can be a refresher or restart for an entire day or week. I am thankful for this new mentality. I know that gaining exposure to this type of lifestyle at my age (just before entering the real workforce/real "life") only can provide beneficial results because I have become more aware of the value of living life the way that will give me the most happiness in life - which is exactly what I needed to realize.
Leaving Europe is bittersweet, but I know I'll be back soon.
Thank you for everything.
Here are some fun pictures from my last few days abroad: