Written by Swati
Que fait la nuit quand il fait jour?
(What does the night do when it becomes day?)
I’d give you the fast facts, I’d give you the recap, I’d tell you my biggest piece of advice but the only thing I want anyone to know is: trust yourself. Trust that you’ll learn when the time comes, that you’ll brace for impact when adventure arrives, that you’ll open your heart when love knocks. Trust and launch yourself at the world, there will always be open arms to catch you if you fall, lest your wings falter before they take flight.
In 122 days, there’s not a single moment I’d forget, lesson I’d unlearn, person I’d unmeet, or adventure I’d unlive. Every moment is necessary and every experience is a teacher. You know I’m not often one left with a lack of words. There’s so many things I haven’t left unsaid, but I’d just like to leave you all with a few of the thoughts I had in my finals hours in France.
We are all collections of love lost and found again. We are mosaics, pieces of stained glass collected over centuries, reflecting the light that shines down on us. We are molten over decades, cooled in minutes, hardened in a second. So we beat on, boats against the current, always lost and found again.
I hope you always believe in the greatness of small things, and that once you’ve found your flavor of happiness, you never lose it, you never forget it, and most importantly, you never let anyone take it from you, or convince you it wasn’t sweet in the first place. Misery loves company, but so does joy.
I hope you book every flight on RyanAir under 20 euros that you can get your hands on and show up in different countries bleary eyed and so alive. You’ll never get these moments back, not the same exact way at least. Develop new skills, hobbies, and talents and find ways to use them everywhere. I spoke Korean in Scotland (and Paris, Metz, London, Italy, and Switzerland), Tamil in Switzerland, Italy, and London, Spanish in London, French in Wales, and Turkish in Belgium. Muster up the courage to do every single thing that you were scared of, even if it’s just asking a question in another language, having a tough conversation, or turning around to find two new friends in line at a concert. And I hope you soak up every part of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
To every other student who spent the past semester at Georgia Tech Europe: We’re linked. We’re bonded. In one way or another our souls are bound by Cora shuttles, panicked eyes, and scrambling to catch trains by sunrise.
If there’s anything I want to leave you with: travel. Travel. Travel. Travel. Always travel. Travel and read. Travel and write. Travel and unabashedly stare at strangers and make up stories about their lives and when you’re finally brave enough, ask them directly. Travel so far and so wide that you have to convince yourself that the places, the people, and the beauty is all real. Travel and see pieces of yourself in every person you meet.
You are going to mess up so many things and you will love them all differently in the same way. You will watch so many sunrises, sunsets, and first dates in the most romantic places in the world and love yourself more just for existing because of it. You will have so many sleepy train rides and take flights to corners of countries you’ve read about in books. You will have enough stories to last you lifetimes, pictures to fill up countless scrapbooks, and memories to fill up dozens of journals. You will swipe away tears at dusk on the final day when your friends board the first shuttle back to Charles De Gaulle Airport at one in the morning because you know you will never be the same again. Because moments don’t last, memories fade, and people change, for better or for worse. No words will ever describe the jumble of emotions and complications that being on your own truly is but at least they understand. These people have brought the world out of you and into you at the same time, they’ve been shoulders to cry on and hands to grasp onto. And they’ve always reminded you that you are so much more than you could have ever thought you would be. Welcome to the rest of your life. These are your roaring 20s. And they’re so glad you stayed alive.