Heading on an exchange is a temporary goodbye. You wish farewell to your friends, your school, and your family for the next five months, with the hope that everyone and everything will be here waiting for you when you return.

Yet, as you say goodbyes, there is the creeping inevitability of change. As my group of friends said our farewells to one another, one of them posed a question to the group that got me thinking:

“Do you think we will change?”

The answer is yes. But I think that the most important thing in this question is answering how we will change. We can add more to that by asking “how do we want to change?

Change can be sudden. In a few short days, I expect to be waking up in another country. While the rays of sunshine filtering through my windows will be the same, everything else will be different. The room. The temperature. The food. The people. These are superficial markers of change, things that can be quickly reverted with a flight ticket. They’re givens that don’t mean much.

Change can also be slow. I’m imagining this type of change to be the result of pressure. Where old beliefs and perspectives slowly morph as a result of exposure to new stimuli. This change leaves an indelible mark on your perspective and approach to life.

Something that I’ve noticed among friends who have gone abroad is that they have come back with a perspective that is “bigger”. No longer can they imagine staying in Toronto for the rest of their life. They yearn to explore the world more. They think about opportunities globally, unrestrained by borders.

So how do I want to change? I want to be able to dream just a little bit bigger. Instead of being stuck within the boundaries of Toronto, Canada, I want this experience to break down those boundaries and let me sense opportunities for impact around the world.

I want it to be a slow change, something that I won’t notice until I return home and realize that I make decisions just a little bit differently than before.