Cyprus Is Calling and This Sister’s Answering

    And so ends my short-lived stint as the vaguely unmemorable once-every-other-week columnist. “It’s my last column of the year!” I told my friend. “It’s going to be good.” Unless it’s not, in which case I apologize in advance.

    It’s not that I want to abandon my beloved editorial soapbox. I will absolutely miss penning these columns at 4 a.m. from my dimly lit pigsty that occasionally resembles a bedroom. I absolutely love receiving your sarcastic Facebook messages cleverly disguised as compliments. I absolutely appreciate that you read my stuff before lining your birdcage so that your Polly can practice her aim with my caricature. Really.

    You see, in approximately a month, I will be shoving as many of my belongings as possible into two large suitcases to in preparation for taking my studies elsewhere. Every time I tell someone this, the following conversation ensues:

    “Where are you studying abroad?”

    “Cyprus.”

    “What? Why Cyprus?”

    Typically, I tell people that “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” was my Mediterranean inspiration. (How could you not want to be Alexis Bledel, riding her bicycle around open-air markets in billowy dresses?) And so while I yearned for Greece, Cyprus was a slightly more affordable alternative.

    While a tween chick flick may have played a tiny part, the real truth is this: I can’t say that the curriculum at the tiny University of Nicosia is going to be educationally life changing. Technology and new media don’t exactly make waves in Cyprus. From January to May, I will have absolutely zero income. I will put resume-building on hold as my life as a perpetual intern goes on the back burner. I certainly won’t be making industry contacts for the future, and I’m fairly confident that my classes will not be teaching me anything cutting-edge. I have little knowledge of the Greek language, and upon my return, I aspire to have mastered the native pronunciations of “beer” and “bathroom.”

    See, despite all these practical concerns — I’m only going to be a 20-year-old college junior once. I’ll have several more decades in my lifetime to practice the Chinese language or understand the international economy. Who says every single experience has to make direct deposits into your academic or vocational progress? This is my opportunity to be in a foreign country in which I know nothing and no one. My passport is crowded with stamps from various Asian tourist destinations, and I’m craving some culture shock — and where better to find it than Cyprus? When else will I have the time to spend four guiltless months abroad? My parents surely won’t make any financial contributions to my worldly excursions post-graduation. I won’t be able to just pack my bags and go once a career or a relationship or, God forbid, kids infiltrate my calendar.

    Now is my chance just to live my life, unadulterated — not the one of Teresa the communication major or Teresa the budding marketing professional or Teresa the freelance writer. It doesn’t have to fall into any of those categories. Going to Cyprus can mean immersing myself in an entirely different culture: the people, the food, the sights, the sounds. Learning from peers who aren’t all victims of the same UC factory. Experiencing an entirely new kind of independence. Trust me, it took a lot of self-justification at first, but I finally realized: If I should be fortunate enough to have this opportunity, I would be doing myself a disservice not to take it — and so I’m taking it. (The fact that Cyprus is home to halloumi, the only grillable cheese in existence, is just icing on the “Sisterhood”-themed cake.)

    If you’re thinking about studying abroad, please go — and go where you want to. While I imagine any international experience would be extraordinary, why not end up in the exact place you want to be? Not every decision in your life has to be 100 percent rational or relevant to your future life plans. Sometimes you should do something because it just makes sense to you.

    That’s why I’m spending an entire semester on a little island in the Mediterranean. ’Cause frankly, people who eat a lot of cheese — and grill it, too — make plenty of sense to me.

    And with that, my school year at UCSD comes to an end. Oh, and also? My beach will be prettier than yours.

    I’ll send postcards.

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