Have you ever felt that the routine is the same as before, but something feels different inside you?
After a year and a half, I stepped into my university again for the first time. I knew a thread of emotions would follow me on the day I would have to go back to the United States, and when I got here in June, I was wholly preparing myself for the year ahead of me. Summer was essential to absorb two different worlds that I usually would separate in my daily routine. That is how I felt during my first two years of college: living two lives—one in the U.S and one in Brazil.
I remember my first year at school and how everything seemed so “big” in my eyes. I use that word to describe that moment because that’s how I felt about college before the pandemic started. Everything was so big, and that massiveness made me think I was living an alternative reality because it often made me feel smaller.
When the pandemic started, I went back home to stay a long time after living overseas for three years. As you could imagine, it was a significant change, and I faced myself living massive Hannah Montana vibes: the best of both worlds.
I spent an entire year doing college in another continent, which made me distance myself from the school environment while still being there. Going through this moment made me combine two parts of my life that I never knew weren’t connected before: the Giuliana in the U.S and the Giuliana in Brazil. Soon I realized, I could not be only one version of me.
The thing is that being away made me see daily situations from college as an “outsider,” and that opened my eyes to so many things that I always felt confused about. It opened my eyes to how I could better my college experience and learn more from others, especially from people who have different perspectives than me. Taking a step back and allowing myself to distance a little bit of that crazy routine made me see things more clearly and genuinely value what really matters.
Situations that would often cause stress in my life while at school did not affect me much when I was back home. Yes, I started seeing how some things are more extensive in our eyes than they really are. But the most important thing that I realized is that I often felt incomplete because I did not know how to combine my two worlds, and I needed the other Giuliana to manage those stressful situations.
As I started classes in August, something felt different. Yes, my routine would be pretty similar, except busier as I’m an upperclassman now, but things were not that big to my eyes anymore because I finally felt complete.
Connecting with my two “worlds” made me feel more in charge of my personality. It empowered me to stand up for important things and realize what I needed to do to better my college experience and overall life satisfaction.
I’m not afraid anymore to go after what is important to me, to prioritize certain moments that are special to my heart, but most of all, I only do things that make me happy and fulfilled. I start valuing more what I have to offer to the world and not expect the world to provide me something to make me feel fulfilled.
On the first week of classes, I walked on campus to go home and looked around at how everything was the same as the first day I stepped into school; but this time it opened my heart. It was as if I was looking as an outsider to my own routine and realizing things were not as big as I thought they were. Even though things are pretty much the same as before, it feels different somehow.
Since I was a freshman, I wondered how I would look like when I am a senior. The craziest thing is that when we picture ourselves in the future, we tend to wonder about our external appearance, but what really makes us feel different is how much we have developed and grown on the inside. Situations became more straightforward as to why I needed to go through what I went through and why we’re constantly changing and grieving for a lifestyle that is not there anymore.
My freshman year self would never imagine that this would be where I am today. I could have a good picture of who I would be, but I think I exceeded my own expectations. Remember always: you cannot only be your half and meet your other half somewhere else. Only you can complete yourself, and you can be yourself one hundred percent without changing your routine. So, if you want a friendly advice, don’t leave yourself at home this school year.