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Reflecting on the "Good" in Goodbye

For every new friend you make overseas, there's another person to leave behind.

Starting a new life abroad is often filled with excitement and new encounters. The friendships that develop are strong, with the uncertainty of language barriers and cultural differences becoming the ties that connect you to others in the same situation as you try to navigate the unknown. As it becomes more familiar, so too do your new companions and the friendships formed feel as though they are unlike any other you’ve had before.

I think it’s safe to say that I have a place to stay in most countries I would like to visit, with friends spreading throughout the globe. It seems as though everyone is always somewhere new, constantly moving from experience to experience, just like me. Sometimes, it’s sad to think that those people that I once spent all of my time with are no longer a part of my everyday life. We come into many of these work and study abroad opportunities with the understanding that it won’t be forever, and that time to leave always has a way of sneaking up on us when we have gotten used to the way things are. The hellos are matched with goodbyes once again.

What I can say is don’t let the anticipation of getting hurt stop you from exploring the world. Life is cyclical and it’s all a part of the experience. You can’t plan how these things happen, they just do. Having come out of an international long-distance relationship last year, I don’t regret the decisions made that felt right at the time. The experience we shared together greatly outweighs the pain of deciding to end our text-heavy and long haul-flight romance. I was often told by friends not to get involved; that I would end up hurting myself in the end and that it would be easier to avoid having it happen at all. But, I couldn’t imagine not trying for fear of getting hurt. This is advice I now find myself passing along to others, emphasizing that time is just a concept and that you can never really know how things will play out.

I now find myself back in Canada on winter holidays. I said goodbye to Denmark and am looking forward to new beginnings with my classmates in Slovenia. Having spent the last four months together, it was both difficult and exciting to say goodbye, knowing we would soon be seeing each other again for our second semester abroad. Saying goodbye to family and friends gets easier the more you do it, and the build up to the moment is often worse than the process itself. Although you may not see each other for a long time, you never know what opportunities will present themselves to meet again.

I have met many individuals who say they cannot imagine leaving their loved ones behind, but I don’t see it that way. I see it more as keeping them close in your heart as you experience what the world has to offer, one goodbye at a time.

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Melissa Gagne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Melissa Gagne has always had a knack for finding adventure. After completing her undergrad in Toronto, Melissa ventured off to South Korea for a year to teach English. She is now on her way to Europe to begin her Masters in Tourism through the Erasmus Programme, which will take her to Denmark, Slovenia and Spain.

Website: hereandtherelocally.wordpress.com/

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