When my co-worker and cubicle-mate Samantha, who is ordinarily one of the most upbeat people I know, gives me a wide-eyed, overly dramatic sad sigh as I walk by her desk, I know exactly what’s wrong. “You’ve been Street-View Google-Mapping Rome again haven’t you?” She has, of course, and then we launch into a conversation about how great our respective study abroad experiences were, the extent of just how much we miss our “places,” and why we “do this to ourselves,” meaning, why we wash ourselves in memories on random 10am Tuesdays which only makes us feel sad.
Since I went on Semester at Sea, I couldn’t shoot up Google Maps every time I wanted a nostalgia trip. I didn’t have any sort of way of being able to re-live my experiences on the MV Explorer aside from my own pictures and stories. Until now:
I’m not embarrassed to admit that this video, made by the Fall 2011 voyage of Semester at Sea, made me cry. I just checked their itinerary and they are scheduled to dock in Fort Lauderdale on December 13, ending their own 100+ day journey around the world, meaning that at this moment those students are experiencing that strong cocktail of emotions ranging from dread and fear to excitement and gratitude while their families and universities prepare to receive them back. In making this video, they have managed to capture the experience of the community, something I’ve been unable to explain fully to anyone who hasn’t been on Semester at Sea, or studied abroad for that matter. And I miss it. I loved it.
So maybe that’s why we “do it to ourselves.” You grow up, you move on, but if you’re lucky enough, you may find yourself transformed by an amazing experience. I may be five years older than the students in that video but they are me, and I am them. When you’re a part of something that special, it lasts forever.* It is the best kind of sad, because I’m just so happy that it happened. And that now I have this video, which I can bookmark and play over and over again – especially on days when I need an extra kick to get me through.
Thank goodness for digital video cameras.
*Also Leonardo DiCaprio said that line (or something like it). Which only makes this whole nonsensical, dripping with sappy feelings post that much better.