Thursday, December 26, 2013

Seize The Moment; Lessons From Caitlin.

Preparing for my study abroad trip to Madrid, Spain has no doubt been an interesting and trying experience. From the overwhelming amount of phone calls and emails, to the towering mountains of paperwork, this past fall semester at Marietta has been a bumpy one. There was one thing that always kept me on track, though... Whenever I felt impossibly overwhelmed, my closest friends were always there, encouraging me to step back and take a "balcony moment." It was when I did so that I was able to see that despite all the stress and red tape that comes with studying abroad, what I will gain from the experience will be unimaginably worthwhile.

One such person who constantly helped remind me of this was Caitlin Yager. Like myself, Caitlin also spent the past semester preparing to study abroad in the spring. Her journey was to take her to Russia. Despite elements like the language barrier and the inevitable cold, I could always see Caitlin's eyes light up and her passion ignite whenever she talked about studying abroad in Russia. It was her blazing passion and energy that often inspired me to look at my study abroad experience through a more positive lens.

Given this, it is beyond surreal when I consider how studying abroad is not something I'll be able to share with Caitlin. However immeasurably unfair, her passing has reminded me of how grateful I am to have the McDonough family in my life. Whether it's been offering me support along my study abroad journey, or encouraging me to pursue leadership positions on campus, McDonough has made a world of difference in my life. I am determined, now more than ever, to make every single day abroad worthwhile. For myself and for Caitlin, I will do all I can to ensure my time in Madrid is the adventure of a lifetime.

You may choose to travel to a foreign country, or perhaps you will decide to further explore leadership opportunities on campus... Either way, I encourage you to seize every chance you have to thoughtfully engage with and support those who make up the world around you. We never know when opportunities to do so may be taken away...

As I prepare to depart for Spain in less than a week, I cannot help but be grateful for the time I spent with Caitlin. She's taught me the importance of reaching for new goals and being unafraid to let other ones go while I am abroad. Whether in the classroom or in the real world, encountering new cultural perspectives is a challenging process. We may doubt, regret, or wish we could return to a time when things were much simpler. But we cannot turn back. As McDonough scholars and citizens of the world, we should embrace the unknown. We mustn't forget that every new opportunity holds the promise of triumph and a brighter, more dazzling tomorrow. And most importantly, we mustn't forget to live.

I look forward to sharing my experiences abroad with you. Stick with me friends. This one's for her.

1 comment:

  1. First off, I love seeing your posts and pictures about studying abroad on social media, Madison! Your blog has just officially made me decide that because it is unlikely I will get the chance to study abroad, I am just going to do it vicariously through you! This specific blog shared the biggest theme I have heard when people talk about when sharing Caitlin's legacy. That theme would undoubtedly be her uncanny ability to lift spirits. She had a knack for getting people to take a second and relax because as she would say, "it is going to be okay". This could be tied, I think, to your coffee post. The ability of people in Madrid to take the time to stop and build relationships. We can't be all work all of the time! Another lesson I took away from Caitlin passing away was that time is limited and getting to know people the best we can is, in a sense, far more important than anything else because that is a big source of enjoyment in life.