It’s been a few weeks now since I left from my study abroad in Ifrane, Morocco. My time there was followed by a brief three days in London, England, before I returned home to Orlando. My first few days back in the United States felt a almost surreal- suddenly I no longer faced obstacles of language barrier and homesickness that became my day-to-day since leaving the country in January. But also, I quickly missed all of the friends I made and exciting experiences I encountered in my travels and studies.

My first takeaway from my five months abroad is the reaffirmation that taking oneself out of their comfort zone is vital to personal development. It is by no means easy to take large steps like leaving the comfort of home for a foreign country. But in creating a home for myself in Ifrane, I forged connections that I see impacting my life for years to come and grew in ways I never could in Florida.

I also learned to look from new perspectives and bridge the divide between myself and others. It’s easy to find commonalities if we look for them, and even our differences can be celebrated if we interact with others with both intentionality and open mindedness. These principles can be practiced in forging influential relationships not only with people from different racial, ethnic, and language backgrounds, but also with people from all walks of life.

Shortly after returning to the states, I headed to Boston for a summer program utilizing data and mathematics to combat gerrymandering in our country. As I move forward with these goals, I look forward to putting to practice all of the lessons I learned over the course of my international studies. But furthermore, I plan to apply these principles for the rest of my life, as I move towards becoming an active, global citizen in my world, and a responsible leader in my ambitions.

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