I’ve been dreading the day for a while when I’d feel the need to post this, but I felt the need to post it today. So here it is. (I wrote this April 2016 but have revised it since then to stay current).
The month of May 2016 I said goodbye to London and opened up this new season in my life.
This was hard. Really hard. Nobody tells you the ‘silly’ things in life can be difficult. But they are, and they can be.
Fall of 2015 I decided to pack up my Southern California life and head to London to study abroad to gain a multi-cultural, international experience. It all seemed too good to be true– a divine blessing from above. Back in April of 2015 I visited England and my former uni and fell in love with London— hard. Really hard. I can still remember the feeling I felt when I went to London for the very first time, and it brings knots to my stomach every time I recall the memories. It was so different, so foreign, so exciting, yet it felt like home. I loved the energy, the city hustle, Matthew’s friends and the friends I made there. I saw it differently than I see it now. It was a fantasy; I had already mentally jumped 10 years ahead and pictured my life here, my friends, and my family. I loved the London life. I loved the London dream.
But expectations are always different than reality.
London blew me away because it was extremely different than what I expected. Visiting London and studying in London are two completely different things. While I can boast that I have seen a lot of London, I was also preoccupied studying, and for that reason I feel like I hadn’t actually lived in London at all, at least the way I originally hoped to live in the UK.
The Fall semester of 2015 consisted of waking up, eating, going to school, studying, sleeping and doing the same process all over again for 4 consecutive months. I lived underground in a little dungeon, so I guess that didn’t help. But as I lived that life, so different than what I imagined, I had time to think, time to feel, and time to react. Sure I got good grades and did well in school, but I didn’t love life. I didn’t feel passionate about life. I needed to change something.
In many ways I felt blessed because I was able to realize that I had greater potential than I thought. And that’s the thing, not everyone (myself included) knows how to channel their greatest potential sometimes. When I went to the White House last November and returned to London, I got in a rut. I cried for days. I felt complex, combined emotions of happiness and sadness. Happiness because God gave me such amazing opportunities and privileges in London, but sad because I felt like I was here to live but I wasn’t living. At all.
But I chose happiness in the spring semester. That’s why the spring semester of 2016 was the best semester of my life. I took advantage of my situation. I changed things around. My roommate and I moved out of that horrible underground “pit-of-hell-of-a-room” into a house that was social, open, and fun. My college best friend Vanessa roomed with me, and she was the best roommate ever. Kelly, my former roommate, would come over everyday, and each and every day I loved them more. I decided to balance school and my social life, acknowledging that having time to socialize is HEALTHY and IMPORTANT to staying positive and healthy. I still had stress, but I learned to maintain it. I became closer than I ever thought was possible with my two best friends from college. I traveled more. I experienced. I was happier. London has become my home. It was better than I could ever imagine. For the first time, I wasn’t comparing my life to others. I was happy with what I was doing and God blessed me with the best company. I found a place I wanted to call home.
But there is still a part of me that I have to reveal. Multiple factors in my life inspired me to apply to different schools. That may be a shock to some people, of course. I love London with all my heart, but my mentor was wise when she reminded me that London will ‘always be there.’ To me, education comes first. Education is the key to opportunities, a more fulfilled life. In many ways Richmond University met my expectations. I was able to meet people from all over the globe, gain international perspectives on topics concerning the world, and create life long connections across continents, but this chapter in my life now draws to an end.
It’s extremely bittersweet because I will always look back on this experience as one of the best times of my life, but also one of the saddest times of my life.
I felt love, rejection, pain, and pleasure all at the same time. That was the London life for me. I’ve never resonated more with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (Dickens). I know realize looking back that I had to go through the pain to reach the good times, the happiness. It was incredibly worth it and I thank the Lord everyday for it.
Over the summer of 2016, I was a secret mess. I was getting doors slammed in my face and hard no’s from things I thought would say yes. Adapting to the US culture, getting rejected from universities (all over again), living with a different set of people— these were all challenges I faced. One of the most heartbreaking news was getting waitlisted and rejected from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, my top choice to excel in my educational endeavors. (First world problems, I know, but just bare with me).
I was frustrated because I thought I did everything right. I got straight A’s, joined many clubs, was a student representative of my major, worked for two non-profit organizations, wrote killer essays, received awards off my merits…my application was perfect; I even worked at Georgetown for a week over the summer. I was convinced I’d at least be waitlisted—and hopefully later on accepted. But I wasn’t. I was rejected. And that taught me that you can be qualified for something, deserving of something, but even if you don’t get it it’s not a full reflection of you. You’ll go where you’re meant to go, and the people that accept you are so much more important than the people that don’t. I wasn’t what they were looking for. And it was hard to accept, but now it is well with my soul. It wasn’t my will, my destiny, my path.
While I was transitioning from the UK to the US this summer, I was also fighting with my parents a lot. I changed, I was a different person. I was not the same girl they said goodbye to when I hopped on the LAX flight to LHR. But I know they want the best for me, and this summer they repetitively advised me to go to Westmont despite my reluctance and resistance. It was an extremely difficult decision and a rough transition, but it took surrendering and accepting for me to find the Lord’s peace through it all. And I am getting there. I’m finding happiness where I am at, no matter where I am at…I am learning this life lesson as well.
I felt the need to write and post this because it’s important to tell others that IT’S OKAY if you change as a person and your opinion changes as well. It’s okay if you need to make a huge change to make YOU happier or if you feel like it will be best for you regardless of the circumstances. No one gets to decide where your story will go but yourself (and maybe your parents at times).
But this post is arduous for me to properly convey to you all. I would assume for many that naturally it is difficult to understand my conflicted desire to stay in London but also to let it go. Sometimes I wish that I could live in that spring semester in London forever. I wasn’t counting the days before I went home like I was before, and I was not wishing I was anywhere else but London. But now it’s time to move on; I need to live in the present and find my own path.
So I conclude here by saying how excited I am to live life. It’s absolutely wild. I still love London and can see a life for me there one day, but that day has not yet come. I am looking forward to coming back with more maturity and wisdom than ever before. I miss the friendships I made there but will cherish them forever.
Be excited about your journey, for no story is the same. Everyone is a storyteller of their own story, and it’s beautifully unique and unpredictable in its own creative way.
So for now, goodbye, England, and hello, America.
Thanks for following my journey. I love you all.
Until Next Time,
The Mind of Style
FOR ALL OF THOSE WHO MADE IT THIS FAR: Go you. I know it was long so thank you for taking time to read this. I was hesitant to post this because I felt like I didn’t owe an explanation of my life choices in the span of this year. But six months later I am ready to share what I wrote because if my story can help anyone, encourage them, let them know that things WILL get better, then I must share this. I hope you gain valuable insight and personal wisdom in some way from this piece.
I want to thank a couple people who have been such great influences in my life, especially during my time in London:
Bethany Park: I met Bethany over a year ago when I visited London the first time. She was my brother’s friend at first and now my dear friend. She has been continuously willing to help me adjust to the London life. She is kind, genuine, sincere, funny, and talented. We bonded over the fact that we both have blogs. I will miss you loads, Bethany. I’m bummed I won’t be able to meet up with you for photoshoots or for fun events or even just grabbing coffee. Thank you for being such a good friend to me here. We will stay in touch!
André Larnyoh: André is one of the most UNIQUE people I have ever met in my life. You will never catch André in a bad outfit as he always shows off his 50s vibes. He reminds me of someone that went to my old high school, CCA, due to his theatrics and creative intelligence. Thanks for all the wisdom about life, the spontaneous experiences, and the everlasting memories.
Vanessa: I have never met someone who knows every part of me like Vanessa does. She has such an impeccable memory; she will never forget your favorite things, where you like to go, and what you like to do. Vanessa is the type of person you’ll always want around to have a laugh and be happy. But she also understands when to be compassionate when times are sad. You are my sister and my heart; thanks for loving me through the toughest and the best times of our lives. Love you.
Kelly: Kelly, you will always be known as my first college roommate (hahaha). Kelly is a special kind of friend. She’s the type of girl that makes you emanate love for her. And I am convinced she’s hypnotic. I find that I miss her often when she’s not around. She has a type of spirit that lingers with you for life and is not someone easy to forget. Thanks for all the love and hooking us up with treats every night. I’ll miss throwing my key down 3 stories for you to come in our house. Stay peachy. Love you.
Mary: Mary took me under her wing within a matter of seconds. You are like my big sister and a wise one at that. Thank you for taking care of the house when we were all falling apart. We always had the best laughs together, and I miss our adventures on the bus, walking to town, and going shopping.
The Whole Parkview Pad: Y’all are amazing. It was a privilege to live with you all. I’ll miss the craziness and the fun Parkview outings.
Sarah Matthews: Sarah is love, Sarah is LIFE. Sarah was my peer mentor and a dear friend at good ol’ Rich Uni. Thank you for being there when I needed you. I will miss your bright personality.
Sam Cheetham: Sam. Oh Sam. You are one of the nicest people I think I will ever meet. Thanks for being so kind to me at my first year of uni. We have some of the best conversations, whether they are over Whatsapp, Skype, or in person. I am always inspired by you, and I am so excited to see the places you will go. You are a diamond in the rough!
Ahmed Zaki: Ahmed, I didn’t see you at all first semester, then out of nowhere you popped up and became one of my good friends. Thanks for being the most generous and humble human being I know. You have the biggest and kindest heart. Thanks for being such a good friend to me.
To all the other people I’ve met in London: You all are super special and important. I wanted to write about each and everyone one of you (Rachel, Elizabeth, Caitlin, Ally, Nora, Lana, Alex, Aoi, Whitney, Nayan, George, Tamara, Brentan, Tatum, and many more) but I’m afraid I’m running out of space. However, I met one of a kind people from all across the world with different nationalities. I am so thankful for you all! God bless.
Until next time with a more fashionable post,