A Year Abroad

 

20181004_191657.jpg vc“Gazing into the future, as far as the eye can see, somewhere in a far distance, the wind is blowing. I can’t hear what it’s saying, I sense it. A movement in my soul is awakened – trembling with wild anticipation. I feel like I am flying, but my feet are on the ground. I can’t see what’s beyond the horizon – but I can feel it.” It was about a year ago, I sat down and penned these words.

Je suis parti sans motif. I left without a reason or cause. Have you ever been called to do something or felt led to go somewhere but in your head, it makes no sense?

A year ago I decided to use GeoVisions to go on a trip of a lifetime.

It was one of my best decision! The agency never ceased to amaze me with their proficiency. Two weeks after submitting my documents I found my host family, and they welcomed me in their home and treated me like family and their extended family showered me with kindness and love. We were friends and worked as a team and they’ve allowed me to treat their kids as if they were my own and being with them never felt like a job rather a privilege to love and nurture. The children taught me how to live in the presence and it was precisely what I needed and I gained up the courage to ask myself, why did I leave on a journey all alone? I saw then, my insecurities and how much I valued the opinion of others and I realized that this was one of the reasons I had embarked on my journey: partir sans motif. I left to get control of my life. I realized that I left because I was dead inside and was searching for that thing to rekindle my relationship with God. I couldn’t do that while I was surrounded by so many voices guiding me wherever they thought I should go.

 

In a way, life was comfortable before I left home and making the decision to leave wasn’t easy. Perhaps what scared me the most was knowing that life will go on without me and when I came back things might never be the same. I didn’t have a clear reason for leaving either, I sensed that  a journey bigger than myself was awaiting.  Along the way, people I’ve met, the hardships I’ve faced, and the lives I’ve touched, in turn broaden my perspective. These experiences all confirmed my decision.

Another highlight of my year abroad, was that I’ve made so many international friends that became family and each of them taught me something about myself.

We each brought our own values and cultural differences to this family. We didn’t always agree with each other and sometimes our cultural differences challenge us but we always managed to focus on what are most important: respect and understanding.

We all had the same vision when we left home for a year abroad and this vision was that we would make lasting friendships. What we didn’t realize, was that these friendships would be so special that we would want to pass them down to our children and most importantly, our cultures will be mutually respected and appreciated.

While some of us travel to learn, to have our thinking challenged and to fall in love with the creator of this beautiful world, others just listen to that small voice telling them to go and along the way God truly reveals the reason why.

About Michelle Castle:  Michelle is 26 years old and is from Peoria, Illinois. She currently lives in Tours, France where she is attending the University of Tours.  She was previously an Au Pair in Tours, for two kids. She worked in Peoria for four years as a music teacher, site coordinator for the YMCA and as a care giver all the while working on her degree of Early Childhood Development and Small Business Management. She loves traveling and have been to over 15 different countries. She is in the process of editing the book of her year abroad and creating a program to encourage young adults to travel.

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