I came to the Czech Republic almost 15 months ago. It’s kind of crazy to think that, at 22 and as a recent college-grad, I up and left the love, safety, and security of life in the U.S.
When I studied abroad in Italy, I never thought I’d travel to Europe again or, at least, not for many years. There, I had experienced the deepest level of homesickness since being dragged out of my car seat to go to daycare. Yet, a year later, I managed to get my shit together and transplanted myself to a country in which I knew neither no one nor the language.
Please, don’t be mistaken in thinking it was easy to leave or easy to stay away. I miss my family, friends, and home every single day. Yes, on occasion, I call my mom to cry and complain about life away from her and the rest of my family and friends. On the other hand, I clearly see value in putting myself through this emotional challenge.
It’s simple: I love learning.
I’ve always been a curious person. Fortunately, I have a family that has indulged that curiosity to the nth degree. Seriously. My sisters and I were never denied books or instruments for learning. We didn’t need Nintendos, iPods, Tamagotchis, or Silly Bands (though, we wanted them dearly). Instead, I had a kid-friendly Shakespeare collection, a weather kit, a mail subscription to mystery simulation games, SAT vocabulary books, and a rhyme dictionary.
Now, I have volumes on Celtic history, knowledge about local mushrooms, a much-needed English-Czech dictionary, and priceless friendships from around the world.
To expand my mind, I’ve expanded my classroom. And, consequently, I’ve expanded my heart. Indeed, it’s true: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
So, I love you, Mommy, Daddy, Brittany, Natasha, Maya, Leah, Anna, Grace, Shannon, Danielle, Kacie, Sara, and Cindy. Thank you to everyone who helped make me the person I am: a person who can venture 4,000 miles away and still feel an immeasurable amount of love and joy.
“I’ll be home for Christmas. You can count on me.” —Kim Gannon