By: Brianna Condilenios, Simon Fraser University, winner of the spring 2020 BC Study Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: Netherlands

The idea of studying abroad always enamoured me with a dazzling pizzaz; the thrilling new adventures and warm friendships coupled with the opportunity to add a rich layer of perspective to my education. So many people to meet, places to go, things to learn, and foods to try. I spent hours ogling over quaint fairytale looking places in Western Europe on Pinterest. While all of this European dreaming was extremely exciting, it was also just a tad overwhelming. I felt a consistent pressure to see as much as possible in my seven months abroad. This try-to-do-everything-as-fast-as-possible mindset was stamped into my DNA by this point in my university career. Between balancing 1-3 jobs, giving 110% to my grades and volunteering for the last nine semesters, I subconsciously viewed my travel experience in the same light.

The most toxic element about a fast-paced mindset is it sucks the value out of the present moment by holding you hostage to the next thing on your to do list. Rushed travel quickly became a stream of the imaginary as I could not fully enjoy the beautiful place that I imagined so wonderfully as I was already thinking about the next place to go. I did not know how to slow down and enjoy life, but thankfully a global pandemic helped teach me.

With the world temporarily on pause, I came to a gracious acceptance that it was time to relax. I took my time to cook meals and enjoy every element of the process from buying the ingredients from cheery shopkeepers in the market to appreciating the aroma of cilantro topping of a dish. I trusted the decisions I made instead of worrying about the 20 other potential outcomes that could have happened. I looked people in the eye and listened more meaningfully instead of worrying about something that was irrelevant to the current moment. I paid attention to how I felt and acted accordingly.

From jaw dropping natural wonders to the rich diversity of people, the world has so much to offer. However, everything can pass by in the blink of an eye if one does not take the time to soak it in. Not only did I learn how to slow down and take better care of myself, but I developed a conscious, loving way of life that allows me to better connect with the world instead of trampling through it.

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