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