Going Abroad and the Journey to Unconditional Love

By: Adelaide Columnas, Greenheart Exchange Work and Travel Program Assistant

Deep in the archives of International Education Academic Literature, I read an article that posed the idea that going abroad was like embarking on a new relationship.

This idea was completely novel to me—going abroad was simply just that…going abroad. It meant embarking on a new adventure, starting a new chapter, finding yourself, and all that jazz. I thought about it and reflected on each of my past travels. In doing so, I realized that each country was a person that I was starting a new relationship with. I was surprised to find that the idea actually made some sort of sense.

Maybe it was something you read, heard, or a place you have been daydreaming about, but there is an initial hunch you get when you are deciding to pick your destination… just like an initial interest that draws you to a person.

You do your research, you try to get an intuition if this is a place that you really want to go-just like some people may research and feel out if they want to pursue a first date with an individual.

Making a move

You’ve done your research, it seems like a good fit, and you finally decide to take action and purchase your plane ticket. Think of this like making a move to say “hi” or even to ask someone out.

First date

You have done your planning, your ticket is purchased, and you are finally on your way! You are feeling excited, a little anxious, and definitely hopeful.

Your plane lands and this is it—you are finally meeting! You are on the soil of the country you have been daydreaming, researching, and planning for. This will be the first out of many encounters you will have with this place while you are there.

Honeymoon phase

Initial impressions went great! Everything is so new and exciting! You’re completely awed and amazed. There is always something fresh and something new to learn, as you continue getting to know this new and intoxicating place.

Post-Honeymoon phase (Also known as the“Stage of Disturbances”)

This is the point where you get past the romance and infatuation that you initially had. You are probably working through different challenges: adapting to a new culture, trying to get a handle on the language, attempting to navigate their public transportation system, or maybe the food is not agreeing with you as much as you thought. You realize that this place you have held expectations for in your mind is indeed not perfect — maybe not at all what you expected.

Understanding, Acceptance, and Unconditional Love

With time, you realize that you can’t mold the country into what your expectations were. Instead, you work harder to try and understand one another. You realize there are different layers to truly understand this place, why the country is what it is, and what makes it tick. Within that process, you discover the beauty and remember why you fell in love with this place in the first place. You learn to adapt and go through the emotions in both the worst and best times together.

When it is time for you to go, you realize all the ups and downs you went through in your journey. This place has left a mark on your heart. You will never be the same as you were when you first started your journey.

If you have not found true love yet, don’t worry. It is out there: go abroad.

To learn about opportunities to travel abroad and work in the United States, visit Greenheart Exchange.