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Lots of Changes!

By: Ruth Morrongiello

By Ally

February 2022 has been a month with many changes. Instead of staying in Spain until the end of May as previously planned, I made the decision to come home mid-February and begin a new adventure. So, on February 12th, I flew 12 hours home to Georgia.

Leaving Spain, although I know it was the right decision, was a hard goodbye. It was difficult to leave the friends I’d spent almost every day of the past 5 months with-especially knowing I live on a different continent than many of them. In a letter to my best friend there, who’s Norwegian, I wrote: “I know we’ll see each other again one day, but I can’t help but think the universe has a twisted sense of humor for putting us on different continents.” It’s true. I miss them a lot, and that’s the one downside I’ve discovered of my gap year: I’ve been able to do so many different things and meet so many new faces, but with each new adventure comes a point of leaving. It’s been a pattern of making friends and then leaving them much too soon, and I haven’t become any better at goodbyes. I still cry every time.

However, without this gap year, I never would have formed these friendships that I’m now so grateful for. It’s disheartening, of course, to live so far, but knowing I have people to visit across the ocean is also comforting in its own way.

Since being home, I’ve been able to slow down a bit. I’ve slept a lot, devoted time to reading, put together a puzzle with my younger brother, and enjoyed time with my family. It’s been a nice reset, and after two weeks, I’m ready to begin the next (and final!) section of my gap year.

Tomorrow (February 28th), I’m leaving for another NOLS course in the Rocky Mountains. I’ll be there from March through May with no internet, so this is my final blog for a bit! While there, I’ll be earning my WFR (wilderness first responder) certification, doing 3 weeks of backcountry skiing, 3 weeks of canyoning, 2 weeks of white-water kayaking/rafting, and finishing off with a few weeks of rock climbing. It’s a lot of new activities, but I’m looking forward to learning and returning home with a completely new set of skills. It’s wild to think that I’ve already reached the last section of my gap year. I’m incredibly thankful for this year so far, and there’s still so much to look forward to in my upcoming years at Duke. I feel so lucky.