Thoughts from the road – Saying goodbye never gets easier


2/11/2011 – Today I had to return home after a short stay of two and a half weeks in Madrid. Despite constant travel as a part of my professional life, I am always anxious and restless –“inquieta” is really the right word! — before a flight. As I got ready to leave my host family’s home this morning and felt the familiar and uncomfortable sensation of my chest constricting (as if something were squeezing my heart and lungs tighter and tighter), my mind transported me back to the moment of my departure from Ecuador as a study abroad student. I remember the excitement I felt knowing that I would soon see my family in the U.S. after a year of being away, but I also remember the pain of having to leave my host family and Ecuador behind. Of course I had no idea if I would ever have the opportunity to return to Ecuador. I remember reading a parting letter from my host mother as the plane took off and all the wonderful memories I had of my year abroad flooded my memory. Whether I recognized it then or not, my life as an international traveler had begun in earnest and the future would bring many more joyous reunions, along with many painful departures.

It is true that every time I leave colleagues, new friends and loved ones behind, my body experiences the same physical response. Over time, I have come to recognize the throat tightening and constricting feeling in my chest as signs that I am leaving behind something or someone that I love. It is a sad and beautiful feeling all at the same time, because it reminds me of how amazing it is to open oneself to new experiences and new cultures, and in doing so, fall in love over and over again.

Once at the airport in Madrid today, I witnessed a man openly crying as he said goodbye to his girlfriend or wife. As he separated himself from the last hug for who knows how long, he wiped his eyes and laughed sheepishly. Having experienced the same sadness of separation on countless occasions, I couldn’t help but shed a few extra tears on their behalf! As almost every aspect of life, the world of international travel implies both positive and negative changes, both intense joy and at times, intense sadness. But when all is said and done, I would never give up the opportunity I have had to make new friends and share my life with loved ones around the world!

By: Courtney Greene, API Vice President of Student Services and Policy, API Texas

Enter your name and email to get new posts by email!

“Best of the Blogs” -
“Top Study Abroad Blogs” -
“Blog of the Week” -
“Top 10 Study Abroad Blogs You Should Be Reading” - The Study Abroad Blog
"The Best Meaningful Travel Articles of 2016"
  • We use cookies to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you have provided. Please check out our privacy policy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


  1. A beautiful post Courtney. I know that tightening feeling in the chest and throat so well.
    But I got so allergic to it that I decided to stay!
    Come visit Paris again soon!!!

Speak Your Mind



[fts_pinterest pinterest_name=apiabroad type=boards_list]


Summer doesn't have to end! 🌞 Study abroad in Costa Rica this coming fall or spring and enjoy plenty of sunshine, lounge on beautiful beaches, and explore their vast rain forests. Our Costa Rica programs are now open for application, don't wait!
APIabroad photo
API is committed to providing inspiring programs that have the potential to transform the lives of our students. In this video, we hear stories from 13 students who studied abroad in Costa Rica.
Check out the full video!

#ispyapi #apiabroad
APIabroad photo
Happy #TravelTuesday! Today we are featuring UW-La Crosse and Spring 2019 API Student Blogger Savannah Stanley! She studied abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Savannah shares her first impressions.
Read the full blog post!

#ispyapi #apiabroad
APIabroad photo
Need to get away, why not plan a semester or internship abroad! API offers programs in San Jose and San Joaquín de Flores, Costa Rica where you can spend a semester at Universidad Veritas or ISJF.
Learn more about our program!

#ispyapi #apiabroad
APIabroad photo
API specializes in creating customized and faculty-led programs abroad in collaboration with university faculty and staff.

Visiting professor Julian Zabalbeascoa from the @UMassLowell, shared their experience in building a program with API in Madrid.
APIabroad photo
The API Abroad Blog