These days I’m struggling to keep my head up.
I’ve gotten through the roughest part of my study abroad experience: adjusting to the new culture, new school, new food. I’ve overcome the chilling wintertime wind that I thought I had left back in Chicago. It’s been nearly two months since I’ve came across the pond to London.
But I can’t seem to keep my head up anymore.
Life is made up of moments. There’s the moment when you lost your first tooth. The moment when you have your first kiss. The moment you realize that there’s right and wrong. And the moment you start referring to a new place as home.
I’m currently in the stage of my study abroad experience when I’m feeling less connected to USC and LA, Chicago and my family and realizing that my existence is completely encapsulated in London. I’m here in London and London is in me.
London, I’m home.
With the title of home come some unexpected consequences. For one, I don’t look up anymore.
I’m not emo or sad or depressed or homesick (okay, maybe I’m a little bit homesick.) But for the most part I’m absolutely content living my life here in England.
No, it’s just that when I walk around London I have lost the twinkle in my eye. The wonder that comes with being in a new place. When I first arrived to the historic cities I used to take pictures of everything, from the red double-decker bus zooming past to the hidden ornaments at the top of palaces. I used to snap shots of my latte and scones and snapchat the street signs I walked past. Everything was documented.
But that was when everything was new. Now, two months later its not. And I feel myself slipping back into my mundane days. Just like at USC. Just like in America.
But I’m not in America. I’m in London
Looking up may be hard. The place you live, no matter how new it is, eventually becomes comfortable and old. Your idea of home remolds itself around your current surroundings. That’s what happened when I moved out to L.A. for college. That’s what’s happening now.
But you have to keep looking up.
When you look up, it invites others to do so as well.
I witnessed this phenomena last night. I crossed paths with a woman, who looked around my age and was also probably studying abroad, as I was on my way to get dinner. Just as she passed me from my peripheral view I saw her stop short. She looked up, pulled out her iPhone 6 and then preceded to take multiple pictures of the full moon. She stood there just snapping away , trying to capture the natural occurrence to the best of her abilities.
I continued walking. But as I walked back to my flat after grabbing my Chinese takeaway I saw her still standing there, looking up to the sky and taking photos. And now she had encouraged other people to look up and discover what she was witnessing. From businessman to construction workers to me with my Chinese takeaway in hand, we all stopped for just a moment and glanced up at the sky to witness the sight that had encapsulated this girl’s imagination.
What could she have been looking at?
Just the moon?
But no, it wasn’t just the moon. It was the realization that we were in London, if only for this moment in time. She wanted to capture that for the memories and for the austerity. For the simple fact of saying, I was here, today and now look at this.
So I’m choosing to keep my head up.
And wherever you are reading this, sitting in whichever city in the world, I invite you to keep your head up as well. Because what study abroad is teaching me is that the beauty of life is found within the underappreciated sights in your everyday life.
And I dare not take those for granted anymore.