• Shay Porter

From Abroad, With Love


For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this deep-rooted desire to travel as far and as often as I possibly could. I blame my mom for tucking me into bed as a little girl with stories of her own study abroad in Australia during her junior year of college. I would drift off to sleep, room aglow with my earth-shaped night light, dreaming about when I would be old enough to go off on a solo adventure of my own. A decade came and went and this ambition never faded. I graduated high school, came to the University of Florida and was finally of age to depart on this amazing adventure: seven months in the Netherlands.

But the thing is, before I left I was terrified. For me, college was the first time I had understood the true meaning of community. Of limitless friendship. Friends that are equally happy to celebrate your highs as they are to grab you when you fall. Chi Omega has been such a source of stability in my life. I met my best friends in our kitchen over birthday cake frozen yogurt, talking about anything and everything. I’ve fallen asleep on the couches in the RCR more times than I am proud to admit. I’ve stayed up way past my bedtime swapping stories in the living room or sprinting across campus, late to class because I saw a sister and just had to say hi.

So I was afraid. Afraid that I would leave and my friends would forget about me or that when I came back things would be too different. Scared that all I’d become would leave me the second I left home. But as the weeks here have flown by, I’ve realized that couldn’t be further from the truth. The thing about genuine friendship is that there is no off button. You can’t pause a friendship and resume once it is most convenient. You go through the good and the difficult together.

The long-distance FaceTimes, the six-hour time difference, the postcards. I’ve always been told that if you love someone, let them go and if they don’t come back to you they were never yours to begin with. The reality of that is that even when I “let go” of my life in Chi Omega for a semester, my life at the 807 didn’t let go of me. I feel present in the moment, free to explore this new and beautiful life, meeting other students from all over the world and yet I still feel like I have a seat at the table waiting for me when I come back home.


"Thank you to Chi Omega for showing me the beauty of powerful female friendships. Of radiating confidence from within. And loving with your whole heart."

Sending you all my love from across the ocean! Xx

SP





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