By Janice Tieperman
Welp, it’s pretty long overdue that I update this.
The more I realized how far behind on posting each week, the more overwhelmed I felt on how to account on everything I’d been up to.
While I still plan on doing that, I’ve realized that for me, there’s so much more to this trip and this blog in general to discuss than just the basic itinerary.
Of course, sharing the setting is one of the most exhilarating parts of the process, but that’s all it is–a part.
I could go into minute-by-minute detail of walking the streets of Dublin or describe the cathedrals of Edinburgh brick by brick, but that would only be a small handful of thousands of pieces in the elaborate puzzle that this semester has been.
So, long story short, this post might be getting a little more sentimental than the others.
I’m not altogether sure what I expected to happen when I studied abroad.
Maybe I just wanted to travel the world.
Maybe I wanted to escape the political and social tensions of the US, if only for a little while.
Maybe I expected to find some fundamental change within myself, where I’d finally get some real perspective on what I wanted to do with my future and get more confidence in myself as a writer.
Maybe I just wanted some kind of revelation when I hit European soil, or at least some minor Aha! moment.
But life seldom follows the plotline logic of a screenplay, right?
Within the joys of an international travel opportunity,I’ve found myself coming face-to-face with some old ghosts, so to speak.
While anxiety is a constant factor in my everyday life, being dropped in a new place with new people has served to provide me with memories of past bullying, and the many, many nights of being the odd one out.
Memories from past and recent times have continuously reminded me that trust is a fragile thing, and I arrived in Plymouth with great limitations to my capability of trusting anyone fully.
Whoops, this is getting a little more serious than I intended.
I know this probably sounds like some dramatic voice over to a bad fictional travel documentary, but I needed to provide context since this post is getting pretty philosophical anyway.
While I was thrilled to be traveling to England for the semester, a sense of fear propelled me more than anything else.
Fear for the amount of anxiety I’d have? Yes, definitely. But an even greater fear existed in the acceptance I’d find in others (or the lack thereof) after temporarily leaving my old American life behind.
Someone asked me recently what the highlight of my semester had been so far.
I wanted to pull out some academic answer, with the landscape or the history or new linguistic perspective being my response.
But every landmark I’ve arrived at this semester, be it physical, emotional, or mental, hasn’t been defined by the landmark itself at all, but by the company I had while encountering that landmark.
Although they probably don’t realize it, the friends I’ve made here have brought so much warmth and joy to my life, and helped to remind me that it’s not just safe but rewarding to trust those around you.
I remember some recent instances of being surrounded by a number of friends who were speaking in different languages, and specifically thinking how even in a multilingual environment, I felt more accepted than I’d in moments of my childhood where I could understand everything being said.
Long sappy story short, I don’t know how to say thank you to the people who have transformed one of the most vulnerable periods of my life to the greatest adventure I could ever hope for.
Well… this got awkwardly sentimental, and I apologize for that. But before I could really delve into the touristy details, I wanted to keep y’all updated on a different front.
So yeah, England is absolutely wonderful, and I can’t believe how time flies! … and hopefully I’ll be better at keeping this blog updated.
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