L’hitraot is one of my favorite words. It’s Hebrew for “see you later.” There is no word in the English language (that I know of) that encompasses the emotion contained in the phrase into one word.
At the end of last semester, I had to say “l’hitraot” to my friends who graduated, my friends who were going abroad this semester, and even to my friends who are here this semester. It is much easier, though, to say “l’hitraot” when you know when “later” is going to actually be later, instead of a good-bye.
This semester began with a seven-hour road trip from Central Massachusetts to Goucher with three of my friends. We packed ourselves and our blankets and pillows to the brim of my friend Emily’s car and sat cozily yet uncomfortably for way too long. As we cruised down the tree-lined Merritt Parkway, across the George Washington Bridge, and into the not–quite-as-scenic New Jersey, I kept repeating, as I had been for the days leading up to our road trip, “I can’t believe we’re going to be juniors.”
That time of the semester has come around once again, the time that everyone dreads. It’s the time filled with exclamations like, “I can’t wait to go home and eat my mom’s cookies” and “why won’t the printers in the Ath work” and “I need to write at least 8 pages but all I’ve got is my name.” It’s the time when everyone is in so deep with work. To paraphrase what my friend Gab said, “I wonder how people are still so into what they’re writing about.” But it’s also the time in the semester to say l’hitraot; this time it will be to everyone, as I am going abroad next semester.
Nothing can prepare you for the pre-abroad anxiety and feelings of not seeing some of your best friends for an entire year. Last year, I watched as some of my junior friends went the year without seeing their friends, and I didn’t understand. This semester that challenge is for me.
Nearly four years ago when I visited Goucher for the first time, one of the first things I noticed was the study abroad requirement. The idea of spending an entire semester in another country quite literally seemed so foreign to me. Even now, two months before I leave, it seems distant. I never could’ve imagined that I would end up going to Serbia to study the breakup of Yugoslavia. But now, here I am, preparing to leave Goucher, not to return until next fall. As Tony Kushner wrote in “Angels in America,” “The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come.” The time has come. L’hitraot.