I never went abroad. I never really got around to filling out the application and engineering takes a lot of time anyway. I was ok with it though; I like it here. (It’s like I’m an admissions blogger or something.) I can deal with the winter, my friends are usually back at Dartmouth, and I don’t speak any foreign languages particularly well.
Sometimes I feel like I missed out. My friends got to do some pretty incredible stuff. They’ve gone to France and Argentina and Thailand and South Africa and all over the world. I have some pretty nice postcards.
That said, postcards have always confused me a bit. They’re a bit small to say anything besides “Hey! I’m somewhere unusual right now. How’s home? Wish you were here!” And if the purpose of a postcard is just to advertise that you are somewhere unusual, that just seems unnecessary. You should probably know the person that you’re sending a postcard to, and they should probably know where you are when you don’t show up to classes for ten weeks.
Then again, maybe postcards are more of a symbol than anything. Maybe they’re more a way to show your friends that you’re thinking about them than a way to make them be jealous of you. Maybe they’re a way to commemorate a friendship that endured across distance and time. Maybe they’re a way to say “I care enough about this person to wish they were here.”
I don’t send a lot of postcards, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t travelled. I’ve been to the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco through an Alternative Spring Break program and a swanky hotel in Silicon Valley through the Thayer School. I’ve interned in a cubicle farm in Chicago and danced at a nightclub in Montreal. Just last weekend I went to Philadelphia for a club track meet.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities to travel even without a formal study-abroad program. I’ve brought back hats and t-shirts and little hotel shampoo bottles and more than a few scars. Of course, they’re just stand-ins for the memories I’ve made while acquiring them. And those are a lot more than you can fit on a postcard