Don’t get me wrong, traveling or living away from home is a blessing. But one of the many reasons traveling is good for the soul is because it can be, well, uncomfortable.
When my family left me to fend for myself in D.C., shortly after this photo was snapped, I wasn’t sure where to go. Keep in mind, I’ve only ever lived in the comfort of my suburban home back near Chicago or in Hope’s cozy dorms placed in the center of a helpful community. Now, I had no dining hall, no extra-curricular activities to fill up my free time, and no roommate. Just a metro card and a townhouse sandwiched between bars in the center of the city. Yeah, I know, it sounds like the dream. But independence doesn’t come naturally for all of us.
After moving things around my room for an hour, I decided to nervously shop. I thought, maybe, I should learn how to cook? I spent a scary amount of money at every grocery store on my street: Whole Foods, Giant, Walmart… I don’t recommend nervous shopping. I took about forty-five minutes to navigate my way back from Walmart when I failed the streetcar system. I accidentally made eye contact with too many people trying to make comments at me on the walk home. My internship didn’t start for a week and a half, would I even survive until then?
Luckily, other people started arriving. I barely knew my new housemates, but they immediately helped transform my anxiety into nervous excitement. One girl showed me the beautiful rooftop of our building. A few more people invited me out to dinner with the rest of the D.C. Semester students, and we explored a delicious new setting called “The Pub and the People.” After a while, I began to accept the unpredictability of the new city. I had no idea what I would do tomorrow or what I would eat the next day. However, I realized that these new, surprising experiences will only help me grow into who I am as a person.
At Hope, it can be easy to settle into a comfortable routine. I would find the friend group that most perfectly matched my personality and the activities that made the most sense to me. While being let loose into a city where you hardly know anyone or anything is scary as heck, it’s allowing me to live different experiences I would never have lived in my comfort zone. I’m making friends I wouldn’t have known without this program, and getting to know myself in a sometimes uncomfortable, but also, a beautiful and exciting way.