This past year has been hard in so many ways for me. Over New Years, someone asked me what the hardest part of the past year was, and to be honest I didn’t know what to say at first.
Studying abroad was something that I had always planned on doing. In fact, Calvin’s high numbers of students who travel abroad is what finalized my decision to come here. As my Senior year approached, I knew it was now or ever. With the encouragement and support of family and I friends I applied and was accepted to the Hungary Semester! This is what I had wanted, this is the reason I came to Calvin (or so I thought). The next six months I spent learning more about Eastern Europe and dreaming about all the places I would see.
Last August, I packed up my bags, said good-bye to my family, my fiancé and my friends and boarded the plane to Budapest. What was next, I really had no clue. As the plane landed in Budapest, the excitement grew as me and other Calvin students looked excitedly out the plane windows at the city that would be our home for the next four months.
Budapest, for those of who have not been there, is lovely. We spent the first week exploring the city and all its main spots and registering for our classes and such. We balanced home-sickness with excitement for the things our new home had to offer. This was not so bad until I spoke with my family.
I will never forget sitting at my computer reading the news. Could this really be happening? Someone very close to me fell ill and I wasn’t there. I wouldn’t be there for four months. The thought of this seemed impossible. So I had a tough decision to make, do I leave this great opportunity or do I wait in see what happens?
And with that I was once again boarding a plane. Only this time, I was alone and even more unsure. Was I making the right choice? Why is this happening? This doesn’t seem fair, I always wanted to study abroad and just when I get here life is calling me back to the US. The plane ride back to Grand Rapids is long and feels even longer when your head is full of doubt, sadness, relief, frustration, anger and just plain uncertainness.
The hardest part of last year wasn’t leaving Budapest. Or dealing with the changes in my family. Or adjusting to being at Calvin when I wasn’t supposed to be here. Yes, these things were all hard. But the hardest part was to remember to choose joy. My life felt pretty broken. Things didn’t go according to my plan. But through the hard times, I had to remember that God brought me back here for a reason and that I had to keep living my life.
And to be honest, God brought me so much Joy that semester. I fell in Love, for the first time in my four years at Calvin, with the city of Grand Rapids. I have found out that I am staying in Grand Rapids for the next four years and I could not be happier. I have realized that God brought me to Calvin not to send me on an adventure, but to discover Grand Rapids and all it has to offer.