When I lived in Dubai I remember I would spend the year looking forward to our annual summer trip to London. Like most expats we’d go home for the summer; back home, the days would be filled with seeing family and old friends and the long sunshine-filled (if we were lucky) English summer days seemed to carry on forever. Memories always seem sweeter when we look back at them, but those summers were some of my favorite times. When I think back to being a child with no concerns or no anxiety about the future, that’s what I remember.
I remember those summers slowly started to transition to summers of internships, college tours, and resume-building activities. I thought I had one last summer of carefree London fun before becoming an “adult” and heading to college, but that ended up being the first ever covid summer. Ever since then, I’ve moved across the world by myself, set up my life out here in DC, and have done a great deal of growing up – I feel like a real adult, even though I’m sure there’s still so much to learn. I grocery shop for myself, clean my own toilet, file my own taxes, pay my phone bills, and even do the most daunting adult task… washing and changing my sheets haha – you know, all the important adult things! I feel like I’ve done so much growing up in a short space of time; I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic for those London summer days that symbolize my childhood.
I recently made the decision to stay in DC for this coming summer to take part in a cool opportunity, which I’m really excited about. However, reflecting on this, I couldn’t help but feel like childhood is kind of over. No more going back to my childhood summer experience, to the home-life I used to know. I guess the entire point of this blog post is to talk about that feeling of growing up and feeling in a sort of limbo between your old life and your new future-facing life. For anyone the same age as me, and for many international students, there’s a feeling that once we leave home for college, going back will never really be the same. We move away, change, and develop, and when we come back we don’t fit neatly back into the boxes we used to live in. This is growing up… I guess?
It’s kind of a scary feeling. I feel like when we’re little, most of us can’t wait to grow up, to live the cool lives we see in the movies. However, now that I’m here, I’m realizing just how weird it is. For some domestic students I guess the new college life is not that different, but for an international student like myself who has to build up a completely new life for themselves in a new place and who becomes responsible for all the adult things like visas, bills, jobs, and looking after ourselves, it’s kind of like building an entirely new life while knowing you still have an old one back home. It’s a weird feeling, knowing there’s this old life waiting back home while I’m living this life I worked so hard to create; a life I developed through trial-and-error and many many tough days of homesickness at the beginning.
I guess this limbo state can be a potentially be a dangerous thing. Being in a new place but knowing that you still have an old life back home can prevent people from putting down roots in a new place and fully settling there. Whatsmore, the old home that we may be yearning for might not exist anymore. Perhaps our hometown has changed and perhaps it hasn’t, but we’ve definitely all changed after moving away which means that those rose-tinted nostalgic memories we might be yearning for, will no longer be the same. It sounds dramatic to say it, but after moving away, I feel like things will never be the same; you’ll return as a different person with new ways of thinking, new perspectives, and new ideas, and that old idea of home that we once had will probably not feel the same.
There’s no explicit lesson to this blog post, more like a long babble of my current thoughts and epiphanies. So there we go, I gues childhood is kind of over? And I guess I wasn’t really prepared for that? I know it’s dramatic because in some senses I am still a child, but after becoming so independent so quickly, I feel like childhood will never fully come back. I’m not complaining about this because I love my new life and I’d rather live this life of discovering new things instead of never experiencing anything new, but it was kind of an abrupt shock I wasn’t entirely prepared for. Do any other college students or international students feel the same way, let me know your thoughts in the comments!
See you next week,