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Exchanging stories on a study abroad

July 13, 2012

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. The people we meet weren’t just sent into our lives for nothing — each has a purpose. That purpose can be recognized immediately, or it can take reflection for the true reason for a person’s presence to become clear. Either way, people — individuals — matter, for each has something to teach; each has the ability to give a little of himself or herself to you and, in doing so, impact your life.

Not everyone you meet and get closer to will become a good friend, and not every good friend will remain in your life forever. But I’ve come to realize how OK that is — and even how beautiful it is. When a person comes to accept the reality that it’s possible a new acquaintance or an old friend won’t necessarily always be around, a person can value the friendship even more. I’m not saying friendships are fleeting or anything; I’m saying caring more about the quality of a friendship can better everything for both people.

You may be thinking this isn’t a very optimistic way to look at something that should be very positive, and if so, I’m not sure I made my point clear. I would love it if my good friends were all still my good friends ten years from now, but I’ve come to understand that even the best of intentions don’t always work out. Because of that, it is imperative to make the most of any time given to you with a friend. Have the deep conversations. Learn about each other. Listen to each other. Open up, trust and believe in the best in people. Allow their existence to give you a different perspective and way of seeing the world. Don’t worry about how long they’ll be there or when the next time you will see them will be. Soak up their presence now, and love them for soaking up yours.

I’ve come to realize that even a person you’ve only known for a few days — or even just one — can end up impacting your life. In my mind, I have a list of people whose presence changed my life. Maybe not completely, maybe not forever, and it’s definitely not a comprehensive list, but each of these individuals — with their varying roles, character, personalities and stories — has changed my life, whether they realize it or not. There are many people I have known who I will never forget for one reason or another — whether they made second grade better or enriched math class or whatever. And then there are those I could never forget because I am who I am because of them. They let me into themselves in one way or another, and I let them into my heart and gave them a piece of myself. Some of these people are still in my life, while others simply left their mark. Either way, people you meet, even in the most random ways and in the strangest of circumstances can end up causing you to grow into the person you are meant to be. Everything happens for a reason, just as the people who are or were in your life were in it for a reason.

OK, so how does all of this relate to me in Italy right now? In just two weeks, I have learned so much about people and what makes them tick. I’ve watched how another culture lives as I continue to try to live like them for a month. I’ve exchanged life stories with people and had intelligent conversations with many about our passions, dreams and why we are doing what we’re doing. It has helped make the most of this experience.

Sometimes you just have to be grateful for an experience — for the pieces exchanged — and move forward and learn about and meet new people, who in turn, can also change your world. What is important is being open to that and being willing to find out — to dig into — what makes a person who he or she is. That decision — that choice of keeping yourself open (and vulnerable) or never letting your walls break down — can mean everything.

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From → Italia

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