The Importance of Getting Away

Distance provides us with a newfound perspective. In stepping away from the familiar, we can look back on all that is comfortable, predictable, and known in our lives to uncover a fresh new side of life. From this vantage point, we can detect the troublesome and appreciate the impactful. As our latest guest, Kathryn Herbert, shares through her collegiate experience, getting away from it all actually helps to draw us closer to what really matters most.          

          If it hadn’t been for the photos I’d taken, many of the places I’d visited during college would be somewhat easily forgotten.  That’s not to say I had no memorable experiences—spending a year and a half of my four years of study abroad certainly counts as memorable.  At the time I could tell you which foreign cobbles rocked when you stepped on them, or which alley to cut down to avoid the main tourist drag; today I can barely recall what color my bedroom was.  I’m not going to sit here and write that it was the places I’ve gone that made my time at Marist memorable, because that wouldn’t be entirely true.  It was the people.

    Now, this isn’t going to become some I-heart-roommates spiel that we’ve all heard one too many times.  In fact, I learned to dislike most of my roommates and I had the distinct sense that the feeling was mutual.  While my roommates went out to bars and clubs every weekend, I preferred to stay in and read.  I got my work done on time, sometimes early, and never pulled an all-nighter.  I wasn’t, perhaps, “normal” (I’ll act surprised later).

         Traveling allowed me to break away from “normal” and be alone.  I could explore without judgment and connect without drama.  The people I met at Marist I don’t frequently talk to anymore; but the people I met because of Marist are the ones I couldn’t live without.  I was able to get a Master’s degree thanks to the people I met because of Marist.  I have a passport half-full of stamps from countries I ordinarily never would have considered visiting because of Marist.  Grab your Kleenex, because in the most cliché way, I wouldn’t be who I am today without Marist.

          You could say, then, that in a way my Marist experience hasn’t ended.  I still regularly talk to people I met through Marist study abroad programs, despite many of those friends never having ever seen Marist much less attended.  When I think about how I met them and where, the alternate thought of never having met them if I had gone to another country, or not gone at all, inevitably rises.  If there had to be a moral to this drivel it would be that you don’t always find what you’re looking for where you expect to find it.  I looked for friends in college and found them not on campus but off, not in my home country but beyond it.  All too frequently we can find exactly what we’re looking by looking where we least expect to find it.

-Kathryn Herbert

This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original work of the author.