I’m not trying to be dramatic, living/studying abroad is, basically, beginning a new life.
In Marhsfield, MA
I learned this the hard way during my exchange to the United States under KL-YES in 2015 straight out of secondary school. It was only 5 months long, that’s just long enough to be an experience, right? 5 months is not long enough to truly feel like you’re coming home as you approach your host family’s house everyday. 5 months is not long enough to make an impact on your individual or the relationships you forge. 5 months is not long enough to justify the feeling of leaving more than a place behind you, to leave a life behind, as you board the plane home.
And yet it was much, much more than enough.
In those short 5 months, I learned to depend on myself, to immerse myself completely in order to make the most of my brief time in the US, made friends and family whom I still talk to and think of everyday. It was a life, in every sense. I had all the components of what one would usually constitute of a 17-year-old’s life: family, friends, school. I had a life.
Soon to be: Bristol
Come September, I will be a University of Bristol Law student. And it scares me more than I can describe. The process of beginning a new life for myself, overseas in a completely foreign environment knowing no one in my year, is arduous and testing. I will be alone. Perhaps, in time, I will look behind and find (as I have once before) that this period of being utterly independent will be the most formative of the years to come. Truly, to be alone, is the ultimate test of one’s mettle: whether you will give up and sink or try harder to swim against the crushing currents the realization of being on your own.
I have rarely slept before two in the morning this recent week since confirming my decision entertaining my fears. The fear of having to live alone without the comfort of my parents and home cooked food. The fear of having to make friends all over again. The fears go on, and on. But the most insidious one of them all, by far, is the fear of disappointing my parents.
Of course, there are parts to look forward to. As much as I’ve heard of them, I’m afraid I’ll have to discover them on my own. And what scares me the most is that I won’t.