By Caroline Doran II Contributing Writer
It’s one of those experiences that lingers sweetly within you for the rest of your days.
Moments and memories become rooted, with a sort bitter enthrallment in a constant rotation. You are in ceaseless amazement- at the things you’ve seen and done, felt and met, which all, at some point or another, felt beyond your capabilities- beyond your humaneness.
Being in London for four months was something that scared the life out of me. I remember sitting in Minella’s the Sunday before, overwhelmed, mentally picking at the pit in my stomach. I feared everything would go wrong. I feared a loneliness beyond discomfort. I feared a reality scripted in Taken.
I feared I had made the wrong choice.
I remember my dad noticed my shivering persona that morning- himself too discomforted by the thought of his deaf daughter abroad. But he said to me: “This is good for you.” I hated him for advising me with words too simple for my own emotions at the time. Little did I know though; London was the best thing about to happen to me.
I will not deny, in the slightest, my homesickness, or my constant need to be in communication with my parents; which was only worsened with a six-hour time difference. I will not deny the frustrations of currency conversions or the expense of public transportation.
And I will not deny my annoyance at the lack of (free) tap water (in some cities). But I will say all of those frustrations, and sickness for home and comfort allowed me one thing: finding a comfort in myself, and a personal growth undiscoverable elsewhere.
Studying abroad is a bit like an unguided passage- one that teaches you to value the moment and proves the unyielding stability of time. Ultimately, that was my biggest struggle: time. I waited for it, I renounced it, I hoped for it, I prayed for more and less of it. I counted down seconds, minutes, hours, days, and weeks. I recorded hopeless silence, and quiet moments with time.
It took me a while to truly understand and believe in the power of time; to trust in time. I prayed for speedy weeks and fast-paced days. But in the end, there was no need to praise the steady lungs of time or whisper prayers seeking justification for quick days- I realized soon enough London was home enough.
That’s the beauty of studying abroad: wherever you go, may that be Florence, or London, Morocco or Sydney- wherever you choose to be, it will become your home (second, at least). It becomes home enough that you aren’t scared of the discomfort that comes with being foreign or “alone.” For me at least, I accommodated as best I could with what I had: new friends and an incredible city.
I fell in love with not another human being, but a city; one so incredible, I hold it so near and dear to my heart now. Studying abroad is an experience too rich for words. There is no Shakespearean or Jane Eyre type metaphor to justify the beyond incredible experience of going abroad.
There is no comparable understanding to that experience of traveling foreign grounds. It’s just a blessing unraveled by time. It’s a daunting journey with unremitted boundaries. It’s something that, given the chance, has to be taken.