June 20th will mark one full year of me living in Portugal. One full year of ups and downs, of growing and changing, of steps forward and steps back. It marks 365 days of interactions and experiences, and it marks 12 months of opportunities I never thought I could have. June 20th commemorates four seasons of trials followed by many transformations. And while I won’t bore you with the full summary of my time in Portugal so far, I will show you a glimpse into how this past year has shaped me more than I could have imagined.
The summer of 2022 was one of the hardest summers I have ever experienced. With the move to Portugal, I didn’t know anything or anyone and everything was new. It resulted in me spending my 15th birthday missing my friends dearly, and it triggered a constant countdown until when school would start again and I would be able to meet and interact with new people.
That summer I also discovered Bloom, and I made the bold decision to send in my application right there and then, while I was surrounded by tons of unpacked boxes in my new home. That decision was one of the best I could have made, and I couldn’t imagine my life now without Bloom and the amazing team. The summer taught me that I couldn’t only just look forward to what was to come, but I had to appreciate the here and now and be in the moment.
The fall of 2022 was a season of small steps in the right direction, despite the constant trials. While the initial luster of attending a new school eventually wore down just like the summer, I struggled to adapt to my new environment. My new school was nothing like I had expected it to be, and I slowly started to spiral into a cycle of low self-esteem, low confidence, and hatred of my new duty station. I was struggling and I was mad at myself for it. But I would later come to realize that it’s ok to not be ok.
That fall I also had the opportunity to join several clubs and interact with people from schools across the world, and it sparked an excitement within me that I had not felt in a long time. That season showed me that sometimes life doesn’t always work out the way we thought it would, but there’s always another, better, side to things.
The winter of 2022-23 was a season of eye-opening experiences. I got to travel to Germany and Austria for Christmas, as well as to the Netherlands for an international conference. These opportunities not only allowed me to become independent but also revealed to me that I was capable of more than I imagined. This season was also full of academic pressures and busy schedules, but it was the beginning of me breaking through the barriers, anxiety, and stress that were holding me down. I had the opportunity to truly step back from the craziness of life and look at the world with all its beauty.
I would label the spring of 2023 as my final breakthrough since my arrival to Portugal. I got to travel to Belgium and Italy during this time, and I truly got to reflect on how God had carried me through the tribulations. It wasn’t until spring that I could really see that the hardships I went through, the experiences that I got to have, and the people that I met all just made me stronger.
In spring I got to see my hard work pay off as I was accepted into the National Honor Society, and I began to hold my head up high, unafraid, as I looked towards the future.
And now, as I reflect back on all of these seasons of change that somehow were able to fit into only 365 days, I realized that there were just simply that: seasons. Seasons begin and they end, and I started and ended each one a changed person. Even though I didn't know what was in store at the beginning, I am grateful for the amazing ending to one year.
Thank you so much, God, for one year in Portugal that You used for Your glory!
Muito obrigada Deus, por um ano em Portugal que usaste para a tua glória!