Lili's Travel Diary #7: Taking a moment to be grateful
Sunday marks one month abroad for me. ONE. MONTH. It is crazy to think that I have been living away from home on another continent with people I have never met before that are slowly becoming some of my best friends for a month. WHAT EVEN?! I sit here waking up sometimes and just ask myself "what is my life right?!" over and over again. It's still crazy to me that I have followed through with my decision to take this journey and just roll with it. I am doing this! I am braver than I think I am.
One thing I have realized since coming here is that I've grown significantly closer to my family since leaving the states. This isn't something I necessarily expected. I expected to contact them every now and then like I did while away at uni in NYC, but it's different here. I find myself mainly reaching out to them at night when I've retired for the night, just wanting to know how their day is or to get something off my chest. And they're always ready and willing to listen. I find myself reaching out to them when I am lonely, when I am panicking because I don't understand how to do something, and when I am simply bored. This journey is strengthening my bond with them.
I've always been close with my Dad, so I find myself often calling him to help me with things that I am currently unable to take care of...financial aid, bank issues, how the hell do I work this weird laundry machine moments, travel advice from his days backpacking across Europe that helped inspire me to go abroad anyway, food shopping, figuring my way out around here, etc. But I also reach out to him as I normally would...to discuss football, ask about GREASE LIVE since I know he secretly watched it, the cats, to just talk cause a girl needs to talk to her Dad every now and then.
I've also grown to appreciate living with him a lot this past term to save up money for London. Commuting sucked. I hated it with a passion and not being in the city I've fallen in love with within easy access of my friends was emotionally draining at times, but I can't complain looking back on it anymore. I had a large room surrounded by books and a Dad that would make my bed if I forgot to because he wanted me to come home to a comfy bed, a father that would wake me up in the morning if I slept through my alarms, a roommate that left me alone when I needed to be left alone but would hang out in the living room watching bogus TV while we talked when I needed that too, someone who took care of me when I was sick and kept the kitchen stocked with my favorites and surprise sweet treats, someone willing to cook for me because I didn't know how to, was overwhelmed with work, or just plain lazy, a cat that cuddled with me every night, and readily available laundry that if I fell asleep doing it I would suddenly find folded on the machine the next morning. I miss the convenience and camaraderie and familiarity of home. And I am ten times grateful for it having experienced living in a kitchen that isn't often cleaned, that is understocked, where a load of laundry costs around $15.00, and there is a bathroom the size of me in a room that feels more like a jail cell than a bedroom because it's so dang tiny.
And then there's my Mom too, who I am not as close with but have grown closer to since coming here. I talk to her nearly everyday, and often find myself waking up to her text messages. We talk about homesickness a lot, and how though I am happy here I do not see myself ever 100% getting over my homesickness because I miss the familiar and the comfortable. It took me so long to be comfortable in NYC, to get to that level of comfort in London in the remaining 4 months of my stay is a lot to ask for. But my Mom is working to just help me adapt, to always have a buddy to vent to and rant to and talk to, and tear up to once or twice (like on my terrible first day) because it is necessary. She's turning into my overseas confidant and late night FaceTime specialist when I am in need of it, though the camera is more pointed towards the ceiling than anything else on her end. *shakes head*
I talk to my Aunt a lot, who is constantly wondering when I am going to post more of these and pesters me to do so because she's living vicariously through me. It's very sweet. I am trying to convince her to come out and visit me because I think it would be nice to see a familiar face from home, but also because I think she would love it here. She is the biggest supporter of this feature that I know of, and she's never been to Europe. What better time than to visit while your niece is here and able to show you around? I am hoping with all hope that it works out, but I also understand if it doesn't. Either way, I have strong feelings about her engaging in this adventure with me...and I didn't see that happening until I already came here.
And then there's my sister, who anyone at home could tell you I am not close with at all. Her and I are very different people with strong personalities that tend to clash more than compliment each other. But things have been nice since coming here. Aside from her getting mad because I respond to her texts upon waking up, thus waking her up around 6AM because I was not informed that she doesn't turn her volume off when sleeping, things have been good. We talk a lot about TV shows and she rants to me about her schoolwork if I catch her in the middle of the day. I don't find myself texting her often, but there is more communication between us now than there ever has been before. I think the distance is helping us.
All in all, I would say that this journey has been a blessing. I am proving myself capable of handling anything, of doing silly things like budgeting, of taking care of myself and providing for myself, traveling and perhaps working my way up to a solo travel trip in May. But most importantly I am growing closer to my family. I still talk to my best friends at home. It's interesting to see who does and does not reach out, but everyone I want there for me is there, but my family is being the real MVP of this journey, which surprises me and makes me happy all the same. Something to look forward to upon returning home.