There comes a moment in life when you realize it’s time for a change. Normally, your first year at college provides the chance for a fresh start, but it didn’t exactly happen that way for me.
In high school, I wasn’t your typical So-Cal girl, instead the shy, quiet one too afraid to step out of the comfort of her small group of friends. So instead of going out to football games, I stayed at home reading Harry Potter or any other piece of literature that tickled my fancy.
My mother always told me college gave a chance to explore my individuality and try new things. But the only item stuck in my thoughts was, “Wait… I have to cook for myself? Do my own laundry? Be social?” I didn’t even think about starting fresh because I felt happy and comfortable with myself. I didn’t see much of a point in changing.
Move-in day came and proved difficult—especially because we brought two cars filled to the brim with things I probably didn’t need. To top it off, my mother insisted on filling a bin with medical supplies “just in case” Who knows when I’ll need an ankle brace? Actually, with how clumsy I am it might come in handy.
Campus life didn’t seem as bad as I imagined; the school looked like a castle after all and students nicknamed the library “Harry Potter Room,” which must be a positive sign. The best part of that day involved meeting my roommate, Jill, who soon became one of my best friends. She, along with a few other friends I met during orientation, helped me feel comfortable in the new college setting, and thus I kept to old habits.
My first attempt to get involved in campus life started at the club fair, and I instantly felt overwhelmed by the amount of options. I mean, even as I walked by the sororities, their high enthusiasm shocked me. They all smiled brightly and said in high-pitched voices, “Hey! Come Rush Kappa so-and-so!” I was the complete opposite of these girls, so I ran for the hills, or in my case, the library. And of course, figured I’d be fine. People hang out in the library anyways, right? Of course—not.
I spent my first two years of college with the same group of friends, yet again unsuccessfully branching out. I didn’t perk up until one of my professors reminded me about the option to study abroad. England of course was my first choice, mainly stemming from my Harry Potter obsession as a child (and possibly still now). Studying in England and going on an epic magical adventure seemed the ideal combination.
I applied, and to my surprise I was accepted, my own version of the Hogwarts letter I never received. This was it—the moment where everything changed for me. As soon as I took my first step off the coach into Oxford, I felt at home (and realized I needed more warm layers).
The moment I arrived to my school, I met the other USD students who also decided to take the plunge into this freezing cold country. These individuals shared my love of learning and adventure, which we soon experienced together during the following five months.
My new surroundings changed my perspective on the world and my professors challenged me like never before (i.e. staying up 24 hours to finish a paper). Oxford introduced me to a culture that inspired me. I felt confident this is where I belonged. Even if the stores closed at seven in the evening and grocery shopping proved hectic, this experience provided me a chance to chase my dream: Traveling Europe with amazing people and making memories I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
In England, I was completely on my own in a new place, a push I very much needed. I met amazing and unique individuals while in Oxford, each one of them contributed to my personal growth and I got to travel Europe with two special friends of mine. Most of the other USD students in Oxford I would have never even met on campus if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone.
Overall, I definitely learned one thing. Sometimes you need to step out from what’s comfortable and into the unknown, because you might just find a little bit of magic.