The real reason why I miss England (Study Abroad reflections pt.1)

It’s been a few days since I’ve returned home from my three-month study-abroad stint in England. Thanks to jetlag, I’m asleep by 10pm and up at 5am. For the first time in three months, I’m not living with 12 other people in a dormitory, nor do I need to read or write essays, so it’s been eerily quiet. Time and space to think.

I haven’t written in three months; that’s how busy and wild and chaotic and hectic it’s been. I apologise (look! I used an S instead of a Z! the British way!). But if you knew how many times I’ve had to sleep at 2 and wake up at 4 to catch a plane/train/something that moves, you’d understand.

I’ll talk about the trip. I’ll talk about the stories, the people I met, the shenanigans I got into, and of course the deep and reflective stuff about paradigm shifts and world perspectives and growing up and blablabla—but before all that, I want to talk about just one thing.

I miss England. Deciding to do a semester-long exchange instead of a year-long one was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. (Granted, I didn’t really have a choice because if I did do a year I’d delay my already super-delayed graduation). Yes, I miss England because I miss the places I found and the people I met. I miss cream tea in gardens and used bookstores with hidden back rooms and endless galleries and cobblestones rippling with hundreds of years of stories. I miss group selfies that never turn out right, midnight pranks on roommates, and even that time I was certain I’d miss my flight at Stansted because security thought my hands were—and I quote—”explosive.”

But what I miss most is myself. The me that was there.

Let me be clear: I’ve never lived away from home before. I grew up right on the borders of one of the nicest universities in the country with a program well-suited for me, so I had no reason to leave home for school. And although I know how to take care of myself to the extent that I sometimes cook for my parents, the comfort of home and the need to respect the rules that come with a free roof have always been there.

But taking care of myself wasn’t a life-changer for me. What changed was my approach to things. Unencumbered by authoritative limits and living in a land I had not explored, I was pretty damn motivated to do things. Be my own chooser of adventurer. I made it a point to travel somewhere new basically every weekend, to embrace the unknown, the foreign, the strange, the discomforting. Another thing to be clear about: safe at home I’m powerfully introverted—I prefer to be alone, I get tired of socializing, my walls are usually up. But over there…my walls lowered just a little. I went out a little more, interacted a little more. I even asked someone out—which I’ve never done before—and although I wasn’t successful, I’m pretty damn proud I did it.

In other words, I was in a really healthy headspace. I was driven, and I had this belief that there were so many things to do and I had to do as many of them as possible before time ran out. As a writer, my mind was overloaded with stimulation, and waters blasted open the dam that is writer’s block. I was in a place with so much literary history and so many stories wedged in its street corners. It was then that I vowed to return again for a solid year (or even more) and be in this mood again.

stirling highlands

Spontaneously-found viewpoint in Stirling, Scotland (on the border of the Highlands).

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more stories.

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5 thoughts on “The real reason why I miss England (Study Abroad reflections pt.1)

  1. Pingback: Best Places to Eat Out in Shieldaig • JustYumYum

  2. Pingback: Post-Travel Identity Crisis Follow-up Post (Study Abroad reflections pt.4.5) | breakfast with words

  3. Pingback: A Post-Travel Identity Crisis (Study Abroad reflections pt.4) | breakfast with words

  4. Hey Charmaine!! Haven’t gotten in touch with you in awhile but I see you’re doing really well! So jealous that you got to study abroad in England and good to see you enjoyed it. Very interesting how you described yourself as more motivated but I can totally relate. Nice blog by the way and I hope to read more about your interesting adventures and endeavours.

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  5. Sounds like you had an awesome time 🙂 I traveled to Europe this past summer and I think traveling or living abroad definitely changes you. I found when I travelled independent of my parents with my sister and brother through Europe, I felt more confident, more independent and more capable of anything afterwards. Looking forward to your updates!

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