A large portion of Gonzaga students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate careers. The opportunity to study abroad is largely what sets GU apart from other universities, as students are encouraged from multiple organizations on campus to explore new countries.
While students are aware that studying abroad occurs quite frequently and conversations often turn to wistful detailings of eventual travel plans, nothing really prepares you for the departure of a close friend — especially when your itinerary for foreign adventure does not line up directly with theirs.
Often times, classes for STEM majors are offered in specific semesters at a limited number of universities, meaning that these students have little choice in when they leave. Personal dreams ultimately take priority over good times with GU pals.
Quality friends hopefully encourage each other to embark into the unknown instead of holding each other back. Selfish desires may be fueled by genuine intention, but a crucial part of college is finding oneself separate from the influence of a greater group.
So friends leave — sometimes ripping the Band-Aid off in an abrupt admittal of their plans eliminating time to mull over their impending departure. Others take the direct approach of mentioning study abroad on a daily basis, celebrating openly and loudly once accepted.
Regardless of the tactic used, the news of departure always receives mixed reactions. Initial reactions follow the track of an emotional roller coaster until feelings eventually settle or turn into fear.
The fear of change is far greater than the actual change itself. Anticipation in less than pleasant situations is a mental bully, leading to thoughts about how nothing will be same. Admittedly a large gap forms in the group where your friend once stood, but life never stops because someone close to you is no longer present. Life continues, and we must as well.
My time thus far at GU has allowed me to discover more about myself, with the greatest contributor to this being my relationships with other people. When people ask me if I’m still upset over terminated friendships I say “no.” You know, like a liar.
Despite previously believing that I do not get attached easily to others, I now recognize this is false. I build my homes in people rather than locations, finding shelter in connections with other individuals.
Having one of my closest friends leave for Florence terrified me and left me somewhat lost the beginning of the semester.
Small traditions that became integral to weekly routines suddenly vanished, and I was left grasping for a sense of normalcy.
Midnight runs downtown for tacos from the truck outside The Globe, studying at Atticus and watching movies in Corkery lacked the extra energy that accompanied each event in the form of my friend.
Conversations at GU often turn to our friend abroad, with every group member eager to share their latest updates on their whereabouts. There’s a degree of pride in knowing the details of Florence and providing the information that fills the gap, even if it is only mended momentarily.
I miss my friend. Life at GU is different and maintaining communication across seas is not easy — but that’s OK. I feel that bonds are strengthened from a lack of immediate contact, revealing solid friendships and crumbling those on faulty foundations.
I am confident in the relationships I have built here at GU, where the people around me finally feel like family. Following this, I am confident that everything will fall back into place and family dinners will carry a more joyous atmosphere upon my friend’s return. I have never been more excited to obtain a late night Tub O’ Tots from Zips and watch Shrek in Corkery, because I know this means I will be home.
Nicole Glidden is the opinion editor. Follow her on Twitter: @NicoleGlidden16.