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Opinion: Coping with tragedy from abroad

When you study abroad, you find countless things to fear.

You fear that your pet will get sick. You fear that your significant other will move on. You fear that the time difference will make it difficult to Skype your parents. You fear that you won’t be able to find a job for when you return. You fear those moments of turbulence as you fly from one destination to the next.

You fear that you will regret missing out on Marathon Monday, the undisputed best day of the year for a Boston College student.

When it comes to fear, our minds can take us to unthinkable places. But I never once thought to fear for the safety of my city, my home: Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo by Jenna LaConte/Gavel Media

Having to watch yesterday’s tragic events unfold online in a completely different time zone put a 26.2 mile-wide pit in my stomach.

Our families are thankful that we were continents away at the time of the explosions, and though we are grateful for the safety that comes with the distance, this is a lonely time to feel removed from our lives at BC. In these moments of grief, we want nothing more than to hear our loved ones’ voices and breathe in that beautiful Boston air. We want nothing more than to donate blood and be half as brave as the runners who continued their marathon beyond the finish line to help their peers. We want nothing more than to walk those last 5 miles between Heartbreak Hill and the finish line this Friday to show our solidarity.

As much as we want all of these things, part of studying abroad is forcing ourselves to be present where we are at all times, no matter how badly we wish we could be somewhere else. At times, this can be the beauty of being abroad — we have the unique opportunity to be completely self-involved and live in the moment. Right now, this is the challenge of being abroad — we have no choice but to be distant spectators with heavy hearts and long lists of people we would hug if we had the chance.

But, we do know one thing. Boston is a force to be reckoned with. If you have ever tried to jaywalk on Comm. Ave or cut someone in line at Dunkin’ Donuts, you know better than to mess with a Bostonian. When we return, we will be coming home to an even better city than the one we left behind.

Photo by Jenna LaConte/Gavel Media

Photo by Jenna LaConte/Gavel Media

When you look at our sports teams, our universities, our changing seasons, and, of course, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, it is undeniable that Boston entered yesterday’s marathon with an ongoing list of reasons to be proud. Our city ended the day with countless new heroes and a mission to prove to the world what we already know: Boston cannot be beat.

After all is said and done, I still do not fear for the safety of Boston. Instead, I applaud its strength and admire its resilience.

Studying abroad is amazing. It is an unmatched opportunity to grow and get to know yourself better, and coming here was probably the best decision that I have ever made. I have grown to appreciate the world for all that it has to offer.

And for me, the best thing that this world has to offer is the city that I will return to, the city that will welcome me back with open arms and dirty water. Boston, you’re my home.

School, major and year: A&S, English and communication, 2014

Hometown: Acton, MA, but my parents recently moved to Beacon Hill, which is way cooler.

What makes the Gavel so BANGin’? Everyone is just the perfect amount of weird. It is one of very few environments in which I don't feel like the weirdest person in the room.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a pep talk the night before you moved into BC as a freshman, what is the most important piece of advice that you would give to your former self? I would offer myself a friendly reminder that everyone comes to college friend-less, and therefore looking for friends. Before coming to BC, I pictured myself eating every meal in solitude because I forgot that I wasn't the only person who would be entering day one without really knowing anybody. That was silly of me.
What is your favorite study spot on campus? Stuart law classrooms.
What is your go-to meal at Late Night? Mozzarella sticks.
What is the #1 most played song on your iTunes? "Gong Li" -- Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What is the best Halloween costume that you have ever worn? I was a Hershey's kiss as a toddler. Aaaaaand I rocked it.
If you could befriend the main characters from any TV show or movie, who would you choose and why? "The Office," because I have always thought that Jim and Pam would appreciate my sense of humor.