I’ll never forget the burst of excitement I felt as I walked off the plane in Manchester. I wore my backpack (the big one I’d use for weekend travel trips) and a huge smile (the kind that you can’t wipe off your face). After hours of preparation, I was finally in England – my new home for the next year. I found the bus that would shuttle me to the University of Sheffield, and an hour later, I was dropped off just outside my new flat. I checked in and was led to my room. None of my flatmates were around, so I decided to unpack before venturing out to find some food for dinner. It didn’t take long to organize my tiny room, so I sat on my bed, staring up at the pictures I’d taped to the wall. It was then that it hit me – I wouldn’t see any of the people that I loved the most for an entire year. I burst into tears, imagining all the things I might miss while I was gone. Unsure of how to make sense of what I was feeling, I decided to wander around Sheffield to clear my head. As I tried to follow a map, I looked up just in time to see the perfect advice. On what I later found out is the Psychology building (one of my classrooms), was a quote by Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning.”
Just as quickly as I had started to miss my home in California, I found a sense of peace. I decided to pursue a master’s degree in another country because I questioned (in a good way) all that was familiar to me. While I’ll always be grateful for the way I was raised, the place I was raised, and the people who raised me – I felt the need to explore the world. I wanted to be challenged, to grow as an individual, and to actually live in a completely different culture. Rather than focusing on what I may be missing back in the states, I looked around and saw a city full of opportunity. I had so much to learn, to hope for, and to question – and so many beautiful stories to share with loved ones back home.
Just as important as remembering my purpose for the year that I’d spend in England, were the relationships that I was lucky enough to cultivate. It was the friendships that I developed in Sheffield that taught me the true meaning of the phrase “home is where the heart is”. I found built-in friends in my awesome flatmates, and the very first two people I met from my course became two of my closest friends. We (America, England, Austria, Hungary, and Mexico natives) studied, shared meals, travelled, laughed, cried, and conquered the ups and downs that a circle around the sun brings – together. Home is where the heart is, and my heart was in two different countries for a year. Miriam Adeney says it best:
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
I’ll never be completely at home again, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
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