We tend to look back on our favorite memories with a certain nostalgia…and it’s true, I am probably guiltier than most. Every moment lodged in my mind is played back on a reel in slow motion, bathed in a radiant, warm glow. We remember our excursions with more adventures, our misfortunes with more laughs and our regular days with more discoveries and revelations than ever occurred in reality.
It is sometimes hard to remind myself that not every day was so easy,
not every journey so magical.
But it was in those authentic slumps that I was truly stripped to the core, ready to reflect and willing to learn.
It is difficult for me to look back on my time abroad and pinpoint the perfect story that illustrates this notion. But it was some time in the middle of the semester, late October, classwork piling up, the manor seeming smaller than ever and the sky bleak as usual, threatening rain, that I decided to take a trip to town: alone.
The whole alone part was a pretty big step. Yeah, I was one of “those” girls that didn’t even go to the bathroom alone. But that’s another story. So what was so special about this moment? It was the fact that I felt so comfortable driving on the left side of the road, didn’t blink in wonder as I paid with pounds and no giggle escaped in response to that oh-so-enchanting British accent. All of those things felt normal. England felt like home.
It was in that exact moment, I think, that my experience abroad found roots, it became real. I was no longer visiting a foreign country; I was not a tourist exploring a new land. I was living, learning and growing in a place that, even if for the briefest of moments, I called home.
It is because of this memory, along with a few others, that I refuse to romanticize my past. I believe that when I sensationalize my memories, I lose the one thing that ever made them so great in the first place: authenticity.