When I was in high school, I held this romanticized notion that studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to uproot my life from the familiar to the unfamiliar as a means of “finding myself.” After all, treking through new cities brings new sights to see, food to taste, and friends to make. I somehow got it inside my head that living like a global Julia Roberts character would transform me to the woman I was meant to become. Me against the world! Unstoppable me!
Let’s be honest. I love traveling. As an added bonus, I’m not a very picky or stubborn person so I will never hate a place because the food isn’t to my liking or the people smell bad. Whatever. That means you can stick me in a hostel and feed me street food and I will be very, very content as long as the company is good, the sun is out, and the city is open. But if my short time away from home has taught me anything, it’s that I already have a strong identity that doesn’t need to be defined by “soul searching” and trying as many things I can. The more I go through introducing myself to strangers and making important junior year decisions for the future, the more I know that I am (relatively) well-grounded in my academic interests and life priorities. This evening, I listened to a speaker talk about how I, as a child of God, am a sheep that belongs to the Good Shepherd who stands between me and the lion. I couldn’t help but smile knowing that I would be nothing but a bumbling, dim-witted bovid if not for the wisdom brought by following Him. That joy and fulfillment, I know for certain, cannot be found in any human relationship or place.
I took my friend to Oxford for her first time this weekend. As I showed her around the colleges and little shops, I felt like I was sharing a part of my own childhood hometown, the way that I had mildly forgotten how beautiful every street and corner is. Being back there brought nostalgia, which is not normal because I only spent maybe a good three days there before!
Someone once described me as a person who enjoys doing “lifestyle” things. I can’t argue with that seeing how much I enjoy Oxford. I will do tourist-y things and visit famous places, but I find the greatest pleasure in doing what locals do on a daily basis: hanging out at a bar, reading in a cafe, enjoying a long lunch. Yes, I love this quaint and historic city that much. Don’t worry busy London, you’re not too shabby either.