Another semester has come and gone. I have finalized my fifth semester and I will not be physically on campus until August 2018.

This has been another difficult, but also rewarding semester—one in which I keep learning about myself, where I push my limits, one in which I grow as a person intellectually and emotionally. There is something about autumn semesters that just drain me incredibly, but, like always, I am here writing this feeling victorious.

This past finals’ season was not the hardest one, in terms of stress, but emotionally overwhelming. It was the last few days that I was going to get to spend time with many people I love, since I am going abroad. Saying “Good-bye” to many of my senior friends was not easy. As you may know, saying “Good-bye” to anybody in your life is not always the simplest task, however, we all know we are doing great things. In my suite, it was even more emotional, I think the feeling that we were not going to be together for nine months just dawned upon us out of the blue around a week and a half before departing. Day after day seemed to be more depressing, which I think is funny now that I look in retrospect, but the mood was blue and obscure.

The morning before my mother arrived with the car to pack all my stuff, one my best friends arrived to the suite. She was complaining about how cold it was outside and the many layers she had to wear to mitigate it. I was having breakfast, a bowl of cereal and CNN, as she started to take all the layers off and then suddenly said “Now you’re leaving me today.” It caught me off, I guess, at a very susceptible time because I started sobbing like I had not done it in a long time. I realized how much I had grown to love my suite so much in just one semester—this semester.

I have talked about it in previous posts, but I guess I want to emphasize that a posse really does make a difference in your college experience. My first two years of college, I thought I had a base of good friends, but they were all scattered or smattering—some of them I can even classify as worthless friendships. Few are the friendships that go beyond the surface level, and I was able to do that with the four other people I was living with this semester. It is the reason I fell in love of Brandeis again. It is the reason, despite other personal problems, that I was the happiest and the most grateful this semester at Brandeis. Trust me when I say that it may take time, but if you keep searching with patience and dedication, you will find that especial posse, who will comfort you and love you for how and who you are. They become your base, your second family, and perhaps it is the reason it was so difficult to leave that suite because it meant leaving them. Although, we know we are going to remain in contact and try to see the most of each other during this time, until we come back for the fall semester of 2018.

As my friend and I hugged each other, trying to comfort me, she said something that makes a lot of sense. How are we going to talk about this amazing experience if we do not live it? We need to give the first hard step, which only signifies change. Change is always an obstacle for anybody, it is daunting, frightening, it is not easy, ever. But stepping out of that suite was necessary for me to go and live this other incredible experience(s), that are waiting for me, all on my own. I have been wanting to go abroad since I was looking into the several colleges I applied to, searching for which one offered the best program. I thought I was going to end up going to Barcelona, Spain, only to change my mind last minute because I want to know if the law path is a path I should even consider pursuing. These answers would not come to me in my six-person suite in Waltham, MA. These answers required me to pack all my stuff, leave the people I love, the country I have known for ten years, and the two languages I speak for a totally new and unexplored nation, far away from everything that my life has been thus far. Having this in mind, my tear drops ceased.


So yes, this semester I did not get to leave my stuff on campus because I am not returning for the spring semester. Nonetheless, I cannot wait to document my experience abroad in The Hague, in the Netherlands. I got to save enough money during my summer jobs and my semester working on campus, so I am hoping that will be enough for Europe. It is my first time venturing into the old world, but the good thing is that I will have friends in closer cities that I get to see and create memories together. In the meantime, whether you are going abroad or just returning to campus, I recommend you use this free time to apply for internships and/or summer programs, try to do something productive, read a book, make plans, invest in your friendships and connections, but do not forget to also spend time with your family and loved ones.

I will certainly try to do a combination of both. I also want to draw a plan of my tentative travels once I am in Europe and come up with an estimate of my expenses. Make the most of your free time while in college, your future self will appreciate you.

Have a wonderful end of the year and happy holidays everybody!

-Santiago Montoya