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Leaving the Shires of Home

I love comfort and stability. Not only do I love these things, but I thrive on them. I like my life. I have my schedules, my lists, my plans and, best of all, my “me” time. Because of my obsession with order and security, I didn’t enjoy traveling, nor had I participated in many excursions. When I was younger, I didn’t even like sleepovers simply because I enjoyed my own space. The idea of shared beds and mixed overnight sleeping bags made me want to reach for one of those brown paper bags. Basically, I was Bilbo Baggins before he got up the nerve to leave the Shire.

One can only imagine my thoughts when my friend asked me to study abroad. Thoughts of my introverted personality being infringed upon by a group of strange people who I’d never met seemed less than appealing. Why would I want to eat, sleep and share a bathroom sink for four months of my life with people who could be psychopaths, for all I knew. It was a daring feat to say the least. Going out of my comfort zone was a little new to me, and I’m still not sure why I said “Yes,” but I’m glad I did.

I had fears about finding comfort in a foreign place, and I was worried about finding my way around without a phone plan that went overseas. Honestly, I didn’t realize how heavily I relied on Google Maps until I saw that tiny “No Service 1x” in the corner of the screen. I would basically be in a completely different world with a new time zone and relying on public transportation with maps I had never seen before in my life. I left for London at the end of July 2017 with unsure expectations and a decently sized bag of fear. But I learned…

The program began slowly, as I integrated myself into the London culture. I still struggled with the continuous changing variables, like bunking with five other girls in Liverpool and eight other girls in a small hostel in Edenborough. At one point, I even hid in the large floor-to-ceiling curtains in my room just to not be bothered by my roommates, which worked surprisingly well. The trip abroad became easier as I found the places that I was most comfortable in, such as repeated lunch spots and quiet corners in coffee shops. But I really began to find comfort in the friends I was getting to know on the trip, and the relationships I had previously made became more solidified. I was finally finding my place among the group and gaining momentum in the program.

Even though I had my struggles, like the fact that just thinking about being on public transportation made me want to stay in bed forever, I really learned that the best things won’t necessarily be in your comfortable bed, binge watching Gilmore Girls. I needed to step out to learn about what is important to me, and experience life in a way that I never would have had the guts to before. I had to do something I was unsure about to learn what I am sure about. I needed to get uncomfortable to learn that comfortability isn’t just a place, but the people that you share it with.

And still, though London was an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime experience, I must say that I am very, very happy to be home.

About the author

Emilyn Giddings

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