Guess who’s back?! It’s me, your friendly neighborhood quizmaster and B&S editor. Shout out to the rest of the B&Crew for doing a great job last semester. They’re beautiful people.

I was abroad in South Africa, bouncing between national parks with 16 other students, having a blast, conducting Science as an English major, etc. It was incredible, and admittedly I shed quite a few tears while parting with the friends I made. Luckily I pulled it together in time to be declared an undesirable for a year but fell apart again and cried into my airline chicken. Other ~cool~ things I did: pierced my ear with an Acacia thorn (the earring symbolizes how I’ve Changed), rolled down sand dunes in a national park in the nude (it was real cold), got stitches on my pinky toe (RIP), watched a friend drink another friend’s pee (out of my shot glass), and much more. I loved the experience and had an amazing time. No little part of that was due to traveling with amazing people. Visited a few of these friends at Duke (and changed my Facebook profile to say I attended Duke, leading to a nice amount of people believing I transferred, oops!) before I came back to Grinnell. All in all, A+.

Jokes aside, I do think I changed in my time abroad. I know that’s a cliché but whoops! I learned a lot about myself, opened up to people more than I ever have before (whether or not they were aware of that), and Challenged Myself. I’m so incredibly grateful for the experience.

That being said, Grinnell feels a little more stifling than I remember. It’s only been two weeks, but I’m feeling restless and discontent. Has it always been like this? Is it because I made a lot of really great friends abroad? Is this something that’ll pass after I hit my stride again? Who knows.

Something the program staff said right at the start that I appreciated was “not every day has to be a good one.” True for every situation, but especially for being abroad or any New experience. Maybe not everyone can relate, but I’ve felt like Grinnell puts a lot of weight, significance, whatever, on going abroad 3rd year and having a Life Changing Experience. I didn’t have many expectations going abroad (which I think is a good thing) but I did initially feel like I should be doing absolutely everything, wringing every possible Abroad Experience out of each second. I did jump at the chance to do most things, but I spent a fair amount of days doing nothing. The day I spent in my sleeping bag listening to brood-y music sticks out for no particular reason. Also spent a day during the (very very short) homestay alone, reading, because I was overwhelmed. I highly recommend going abroad, but that’s just my advice. Do whatever you want, nerd. Being abroad is a privilege but a semester is a semester. Take it easy and take care of yourself. The same applies for being at Grinnell.

While abroad I read a quote in the S&B that was along the lines of “pain is temporary, GPA is forever” and I’m sure that was a joke-y answer but please don’t. A lot is always happening, or it feels that way, but take some time for yourself. Maybe don’t be as flippant as me about your responsibilities but actually, yeah, shirk off work, goof around, buy 24 ginger ales because they were on sale and walk back to campus from McNally’s with them in your arms in subzero weather. Have a good semester.