A student’s study-abroad experience is often defined by big moments spent traveling and exploring the world. However, these moments only make up a portion of their time abroad. Instead, it is the small things that make up the majority of the time. As a result, the small, seemingly meaningless things that we do every day play a big part in our experiences. It is imperative that we see the value inherent in everything we experience throughout life.
I came to this realization in the time I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia. As my time in Sydney was coming to an end, I was naturally sad to say goodbye to my favorite city in the world. However, I was not sad because my time abroad with relatively few responsibilities was coming to an end. Rather, I was sad to say goodbye to everything that made studying in Sydney unique: bus rides into the city, interactions with Aussies, walks across the Harbor Bridge, surfing after class, barbecues on the beach, and even the campus dining hall and its horrible food. I did a fair amount of travelling, both within Australia as well as in Indonesia, and these trips were some of the greatest times of my life. However, what I continue to miss the most is not the carefree lifestyle but rather the small things, because these defined my experiences even more than the big nights and trips.
It is very easy to look past the small things, and when we do this we are only giving value to the big moments. While these big moments make for great stories, they are often outnumbered by the small things. This is not unique to studying abroad. Finding significance in the small things is key for achieving happiness in life. If we live for the big moments, it is easy to think that small things are monotonous and have no value. And since the small things make up the bulk of our time in life, we will fail to see the value of this significant amount of time. However, by seeing the good in the small things, we make the most out of the little time we have.
As a Georgetown student, I firmly believe that it is far too easy to adopt the first perspective – the one that prioritizes the big moments. We want our college experience to be defined by the big story-worthy moments; we seek wild nights and big parties. However, these moments usually take place during a small part of our day or night, usually one or two days per week. Thus, in reality, the big moments only take up about 5-10 percent of our time in college. If our day-to-day happiness is contingent on the 10 percent, we will inevitably be disappointed.
For years at Georgetown, I longed for the wild story-worthy nights, but this led to constant disillusionment. The big nights were few and far between, and I began to think my time at Georgetown was a disappointment. It was not until I learned to see the value of the day-to-day experiences as a Georgetown student that I learned to find happiness. I learned to appreciate everything that made Georgetown unique: Hoyas basketball, living in DC, receiving a quality education—the list goes on. While life is often punctuated by the big moments, it cannot be defined by these moments. Seeing through the monotony and enjoying everything that makes everyday-life unique is key to finding happiness.
Joseph Murdy is a senior in the College. Yes and Know comes out every other Wednesday on thehoya.com.