When I moved into my new flat in Hatfield, one of the first things I did was put pictures and mementos up on my wall of my family and friends and I, to feel more at home in this foreign place-to feel like everyone was still with me.
Over the course of the past few weeks since my studies have come to an end, a lot of my University friends have gone back home. From my exchange student friends traveling back to their home countries, to my British friends traveling to their home cities for the summer holiday, there are very few people I have left here with me in Hatfield.
For a lot of people, the transition from being surrounded by friends and family to being on your own can be traumatic and quite difficult to deal with. For me, that is not the case-after all, I chose to come all the way across the world to this foreign country not knowing a single person, and the past months have been some of the best times of my life. But just because I don’t have a lot of people physically right next to me, I have never once felt alone on this part of my journey.
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m closer than close can get with my family. I was raised by a stay at home mom who is my best friend on this entire planet, and I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl (I get my stubbornness as well as my desire to always keep myself busy with a new adventure from him). My brother and I haven’t always been the best of friends (when he’s 13 years old and the cool older brother and you’re 8 years old and the annoying little sister, it’s hard to get along) but over the years we’ve grown together and I know I can come to him for anything and he’ll always be there, and vice versa. Anyway, my point is that my family and I are close. Like, really close. I’m not an overly emotional person when it comes to most things-other than puppies, babies, beautiful sunsets… Okay maybe I can be a bit emotional. But what I was going to say is that I’m not an overly emotional person, but I still have a mini breakdown every time I have to say “see you later” to my parents before going off to university, or in this case traveling across the world and not seeing them in person for almost six months. But the fact is, I don’t feel like I’m 5,439 miles away from them.
Although the eight hour time difference between England and California doesn’t make things easy (it’s normally bedtime here when it’s morning there and vice versa) we still find ways to communicate. I message my family often and I video chat with my parents as much as I can, at least once every week or so-sometimes more than once a week. I’ve chatted with my brother and his lovely girlfriend Lisa quite a few times as well, though not nearly as much due to them working. I update them on my life abroad and they update me about life back home, as if I were still only five hours away from them at university in San Diego. Everything feels so normal, aside from the current lack of abundance of hugs in my life which I will ultimately bombard all of them with for several weeks when I get back.
As good as I am about communicating with my family, I’m equally as bad at communicating with my friends. I’m one of those people who would go to the ends of the earth for my friends-but goodness knows I’ll never send the first message to get into contact with them. It’s not that I don’t miss them terribly, it’s just that I always think about messaging them, but then I get distracted and never get around to doing it. However, I still message somewhat regularly with a few of my best friends-whether it’s sending them a funny meme or a simple “hey I love you and I miss you” text. Whether it’s my best friends that have grown up with me since elementary school, or my sorority sisters/San Diego friends that I just met over the past two years, or even the friends I’ve met while studying abroad who have already gone home, getting that random “Hey I miss you and can’t wait to see you again!” message reminds me just why they’re a part of my life in the first place. It doesn’t bother me that we don’t talk 24/7 because I know that once I get back, it’ll be as if no time passed at all (other than the six months I’ve gone without seeing them of course).
I also miss my extended family, the ones who I don’t get to see an awful lot but that I cherish when I do. Most of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. all live in Indiana, but my mom and I make it out to see them twice a year. In fact, I’ve never even spent a single Christmas outside of Indiana and most of the people who actually keep up with my crazy adventures on this blog are my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. My grandparents are actually the reason I’m writing this blog post and ending my month-long blogging hiatus in the first place.
Marjorie and Don Heman are the best grandparents in this entire world-don’t even try to argue with me on this. They’re 93 and 94 years old and have been married for almost 73 years-that’s nearly four times the life I’ve lived. I still sleep with the baby blanket my Grandma made for me when I was born (yes I know I am almost 21 years old but when your talented grandmother makes you the most amazing baby-pink, star-covered blanket stitched with love, you treasure that thing forever). And the memories I have of my grandpa and me husking corn and playing ping pong together when I was five years old are still some of the freshest ones in my mind. There was also the time he and I played 100 games of dominoes and I beat him every time, but I’ll try not to brag too much about that seeing as he could whoop me in a game of caroms any day. Anyway, my grandparents are amazing and they play a very important part in my life. So when I got an email from my mom telling me how much they loved keeping up with my travels, and that my grandma kept a folder next to her chair of printouts of all of my blog posts that my aunt had given them, it made me really realize that this blog isn’t just a way to share my adventures, but a way to stay connected to the ones I love most, the ones who got me to this point in my life.
I am one of the most independent people out there, but it’s a blessing knowing that I don’t have to be, that there will always be an infinite amount of people out there who would be there for me in an instant. My friends, my family, anyone who has bothered to keep up with this blog, everyone in my life has helped me to get to where I am right now. And right now I am 5,439 miles away from my hometown in a new place I call home-but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: just because you may be on your own, you never have to experience the feeling of being alone. Thank you to everyone for being a part of my journey and helping me make it to this point. I may only have a little over a month left on this crazy adventure, but I’ll be sure to try and update you and stay connected on a daily basis until I can finally share my exciting adventures with some of you in person.