Studying abroad in England is exhilarating for the same reason it fills me with dread. I will be going away. I am going to be out of the country.
Yes, I am super stoked for this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience I am about to embark on. But it’s not so black + white.
My heart aches for all the people that I won’t get to see as often this semester: my friends at school, my family, my girlfriend. Between blossoming professional careers and this life train that keeps on chugging, my friends and I already have a rough time of it finding a moment to FaceTime. We’re about to add a senior year in full-swing and a six-hour time difference to the mix.
There’s also an element of semi-permanence. I won’t just be “gone for a minute.” I can’t just be okay with a travel-sized toothpaste or forgetting to pack enough underwear or blowing a ridiculous amount of money on Big Ben keychains. I’m going to need a big ol’ toothpaste and I can’t forget to pack face wash or underwear and I’d best spend that money on food.
It’s not quite “moving” to England, because I am not trying to plant roots there. But come the end of August, I will be changing locations to live elsewhere for an extended period of time. Is that not moving to a different city, a different country?
I will be on my own in a way distinct from how I have these past three years of undergrad. (Of course, I won’t be completely alone. My friends Hope and Haley are in the same program. I will have my lovely flatmates and the entire faculty + staff of my school’s study abroad program to support and guide me. But!) I’m going to be away from the vast majority of my loved ones while Learning How to Adult on a macro-scale. Honestly? That is pretty scary to think about.
On a more external note, I am also quite concerned about terrorism.
When Manchester happened, my dad asked, “Are you sure you want to go to England?” I held my ground.
Then the London Bridge attack happened. I held my ground, but everyone who knew me (and my great big British adventure coming up this fall) was concerned.
My dad has pulled me aside every day this week and reminded to “be careful when I’m over there.”
And I want to be brave! This is my decision! I’m sticking with it! Contributing to fear-mongering is childish and irresponsible! But in the wake of incidents like Barcelona, terrorism is a very real worry.
Luckily, two of the most spiritually gifted people I know prayed for my safe passage to London. If nothing else, those prayers and all of the well wishes I’ve received give me peace of mind.
I am a big advocate of Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone. The thing is, that’s easier said than done. When I head out to England in a few days, I’ll be stepping out of my zone in more ways than one. I’ll know that the necessary growth will have happened when I learn how to genuinely embrace my discomfort.