Seasons are a part of life. The seasons naturally transition from summer, to fall, to winter, to spring, and the cycle begins anew. The leaves fall, the trees are barren in the winter months, the trees blossom with vivid pastels, and the air with damp with moisture during the summer. Nature depicts a cycle that is incessant, constant, unchanging. Yet, while these seasons promise sameness, a quality that life remains the way it was, it also glistens with change, with a metamorphosis, a sense of a foreign wind on the horizon. Change is a part of life, and while change is uncomfortable, it allows us to grow more comfortably in our skin. When a season of change, of difference, of alien territory enters my life, it a struggle, a plight that often overwhelms me and would rather ignore. That is something that I very much wanted to happen when I was in Europe for the summer.
When I was told that I would spend 3 months in Europe, I was beyond elated. Scared and frightened what I could encounter, but excited nonetheless. However, when I was informed that I would spend time in Romania--my country of origin--suddenly I wasn't so excited anymore. I didn't want anything to do with the people, the culture, the country, nothing. I wanted to distance myself from everything I would eventually encounter. The first 2 weeks of settling in Romania was extremely difficult, and that it not something I say lightly. Personal matters have exploded and combusted that sent my family in a slight state of turmoil, augmenting our difficulty to adjust to the culture. Shortly thereafter, it was as if an obstacle was removed from our path, an obstruction no longer present. I found myself eager to get the place from where I come, the people that would have been neighbors, and the way of life. I wanted to get Romania. I began to drink in the culture, discovering the music, taste, scents, and sounds that made up this fascinating country. I began to recognize people, their mannerisms, and their characteristics. I began to dress myself as a European, no longer lusting over European vogue via Pinterest, but actually getting inspiration from the streets of Oradea, Timisoara, Cluj, Sibiu, and Brasov. I wanted to experience Romania. That was a massive turning point because before that, I would have bartered something to have as little to do with it as possible. And in hindsight, I held some prejudices solely based on a person that embodied everything I disliked about the country. Once that individual left the picture, suddenly, I began to see Romania for the first time in my life. I really began to see. As I would travel to the country and mountain regions, I would encounter different kinds of people in comparison to the ones I would see in more cosmopolitan regions. The deeply set wrinkles all tell a story of hardships, effort, and sacrifice, while the frivolity of the young generation angers the older generation. The people, places, things, lifestyles, and attitudes became part of my experience. I had finally allowed the experience to change how I saw things, how I did things, how I thought regarding particular topics. My taste palettes had matured, my thought processed matured also, my eyesight and perception had gone through a metamorphosis, the way I touch and view touch has changed, and how I hear had changed. All of my 5 senses had irrevocably changed. For the better. I saturated myself in a culture that began to show me clearer images of who I really am. Instead of distancing myself, I drew myself closer to it, inevitably allowing me to change for the better.
It has been nearly 2 months since I've returned to America and the experiences, smells, sights, sounds, and people are as vivid as though I experienced it yesterday. I had returned to my 3rd year in college as a completely different person. I left Canada to Europe for the summer as one person and leaving Europe to go back to school in America as another. I see, think, smell, touch, and hear things completely different than that of 3 months ago. I simply cannot have such an enriching experience and then continue as if it had not changed me. I would be lying if my time abroad had not changed me, not simply for the locations and places that I visited, but rather the experience of saturating oneself in a culture different that what is known or comfortable. This made adjusting to college life (and American life) much more difficult than I had anticipated (but that's another topic, altogether). Before, I felt that I was stuck between 2 worlds--Canada and America--but after this summer, it's inclining toward me being misplaced.
Seasons come and go. But they always return at the same time every year. In this season where the leaves are changing and the temperature dips, I find myself in an inexplicable place where things are not the same yet nothing has changed. Growing into myself and growing in the world around me is not necessarily an easy task, but yet, there is some element of unpredictability that I simply cannot resist.