I had a freak-out on the plane ride over.
I was somehow convinced for a little while that living and studying in England wouldn’t be what I wanted it to. That every past failure would absolutely follow me, and being in a new environment would do nothing to improve my mind or my life. I’d be my old self in a new place, bringing nothing of value with me. I’d watch everyone around me follow their dreams while sitting stuck in the mud. I wouldn’t make any friends. I wouldn’t write anything worth reading. I’d be forced to go back to America defeated.
Wrong, wrong, WRONG.
I didn’t realize until that moment on the plane how frightening and important removing yourself from a comfortable routine to begin building a life elsewhere truly is. Probably because I was distracted by doing all I could up until the very last second to make that flight. So finally, sitting thousands of feet above ground, my brain caught up with what I was doing and the anxiety-palooza began. I’m sure you’ve had (and will continue to have) similar moments of insecurity right before taking a giant risk. It happens; we’re human. Luckily, I was proven wrong pretty quickly 🙂
After an otherwise pleasant flight with a seatmate from Bristol (a lovely, older woman who was visiting her expat sister in Asheville, NC), I made my way to campus without the aid of a student ambassador. I took a bus to London Victoria station, waited a few hours, then caught another bus into Guildford. My giant suitcases and I wandered around for a bit, unsure what direction my room was in (I live in a dorm that’s about 20 minutes or so walking distance from the main campus). I called the International Student Office and a very helpful woman on the other end directed me to the nearest bus stop. I waited, and soon a bus to my part of campus showed up. The driver was patient with me as I fumbled for the correct change. When the bumpy ride knocked my suitcase over for the 30th time, a fellow student smiled and righted it for me. When we’d made it and were about to disembark, another student helped me carry one of my suitcases off the bus (my luggage was pretty awkward to walk with, haha). I got my key from reception, found my awesome room, and took it all in for a while (I also found a giant spider that I hit with 3 different shoes and a small box just to make sure it was dead).
I went to Tesco, bought bedding and food, had a fun chat with the cashier, then walked back to my dorm. Along the way, each of my grocery bags broke open in turn, the cup I bought smashed into a billion pieces, and I had to stop every few minutes to rearrange things (carrying groceries and a duvet/pillows is kinda tough!). Along the way, some very nice people picked up the items I dropped and placed them carefully atop the swaying pile of stuff in my arms. When I’d made it to the building housing reception, more stuff fell, and I heard someone say “Need some help?” A new undergraduate and her mom helped me carry my banged up groceries all the way to my room! After I put them away, I walked back to the store to check for outlet adapters, but duh, British people don’t need an adapter that makes American plugs usable in England. So I walked back empty-handed. When I got back to my room, my ankles were the size of grapefruits.
And I couldn’t have been happier.
I’d had a long day, but I’d met some super friendly people. I’d made it to campus and my room safely. I’d done my shopping. I’d organized my belongings. …And nothing went irreparably wrong. I felt — I feel — at home here.
The next day was even better. I attended orientation events, took a coach tour of Surrey (where I had cream tea, learned some interesting facts about the county’s history, and saw sweeping, gorgeous views of the countryside), and made a few friends who I have plans with tonight. I even showed a new friend from Hong Kong how to wish on a dandelion 😀
I’m really loving it here, and not because everything has immediately fallen into place and I’m a wealthy, baroness with a slew of servants, 5 best-sellers to my name, and everything I could ever want at my feet. I love it here because it feels good and normal and right. Because I already know it wasn’t a mistake.
I’ll post actual photos as soon as I find some wi-fi and can get them off my phone!