No matter how much I rationalize it, staying at Georgetown for the spring semester of my junior year feels like embarking on a stroll through a dark, desolate forest where all the trees are towering black shadows. Only the people who are in my position (and there are not many of you, might I add), really have the right to call me melodramatic. It is certainly an uncomfortable position when all of your friends suddenly venture off to exotic lands to “find themselves” and you are kind of stuck here, holding on to whomever you can.

I usually write more abstract and impersonal political rants – but I thought I’d spice things up a bit and talk about how I think that maybe it’s OK to miss out on study abroad. It’s not a popular position. In fact, most people who miss out on the opportunity are left with lingering insecurities that they missed the chance of a lifetime; or that study abroad as an institution, is something that everyone needs to do. There is this kind of overbearing pressure – that regardless of your career pursuits, if you don’t go study in a different country for five months, then you’ll never get the chance to travel again. I think that notion, if anything, is melodramatic.

I’m not so worried about getting my travel time done before I get too old to do it. I think that for many of us, these opportunities will come again and again – and if Georgetown hasn’t got anything wonderful to offer you, then maybe it is worth waiting around for something better. I flirted endlessly with the notion of studying abroad, from Argentina to England to Turkey – only to conclude that none of the programs at this school really fit me. And it really wasn’t in my best interest to just go, for the sake of getting the hell out. Having had countless conversations with countless people, I find that people are often sold short of their true aspirations of travel. I wish I could receive a small donation from all the people who say something along the lines of “Well, I don’t really want to go to so and so country, but it’s the only thing they offer” – or – “I couldn’t get my first choice.” Why not wait until you can take full advantage of a program that supercedes what this school has to offer? Georgetown’s presence in the South/Southeast Asian part of the world is pretty pathetic – that’s what basically accounts for my decision to stay here. If I think about it long enough it depresses me – so I don’t think about it.

I think a lot of people would argue against my stance. I just don’t see the point in going to a different country, just for the sake of going, when I really think that there are better traveling opportunities out there. Many of my friends acknowledge that due to their career and life choices, they may never get the chance to travel again. If that’s how you view your future, then the more power to you. This logic also applies to many people who just haven’t had the advantage in their lives up until now to really travel around at all. I think, however, that the people who are sticking around next semester and maybe feel as if they are going to miss out, or have missed out on something tremendous probably could use a reality check. College is not the sole window of opportunity in one’s life – if you graduate and leave at the age of 21 or 22 then you have much more of your life ahead of you than you might think.

Maybe I am just naive – but I feel like it’s the kind of situation that keeping a positive outlook will carry you through. Whether you stay here or go study in a far away country for the coming semester, thinking optimistically about what’s in store for you may be the healthiest form of denial. Just telling yourself that your situation isn’t bad and that there are pros and cons to every decision you make, will make whatever experience you have a lot more valuable.

Sonia Mukhi is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and can be reached at mukhithehoya.com. A YOUNG WOMAN’S PEN appears every other Tuesday.

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