“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
Lately, I’ve found myself in a frequent state of “Should I go to McDonald’s?”
Or coming back home, damp from the rain, and jumping in bed to watch my favorite American shows.
Because I miss America.
Cesare Pavese is speaking the truth in his quote. Traveling is brutal on the heart. It’s as much fun as it is fear-induced character building. I hoped my London relationship would be like my New York City one: starting to feel as familiar and comfortable as chicken Mcnuggets right around now. But it hasn’t been. I still feel like I’m walking around inside someone else’s home, forever a guest.
But I’m not walking around alone. Being in such a new, disorienting environment has motivated me to jump out of my comfort zone and create new friendships. I think that’s what’s easy to forget: you don’t have to go through this alone. Find fellow visiting students to connect with and ask them about their home (there is a ninety-nine percent chance they are also homesick and want chicken Mcnuggets), and go out and explore the city together.
Life has a weird feeling to it while you’re studying abroad. You feel like you’re on the airy, free-flowing escape Cesare Pevese writes about, but then you have an essay due and you’re forced to be a responsible adult again. So you’re constantly ping-ponging back and forth between retreat and real life.
Being off balance is stressful and tiring (sometimes), but we complain when life is too cookie-cutter also. I think the knowledge that this is only a temporary state of being allows me to push on through it. Because as soon as I get home, I’m gonna miss it.