China, Japan, Singapore, France and Taiwan are all countries that I had the chance to briefly visit this last week without even physically going there. I met people from all over the world, with so many different cultures and personalities. This is the reason that brought me here at the first place and I am glad to see that it is also the reason that brought many of the other exchange students. Last week, I kept going on and on about how this place is depressing when it is empty. Well, when it is full of people, it becomes a place when dreams might come true.
Now that I am not alone anymore, everything just seems brighter. Who knew that buying a prepaid phone card could be fun? It is not what I am doing here that makes this experience unique but the people that I am sharing those moments with. Taking the metro for the first time is supposed to be scary. For us, it was just fun! We knew that nothing could happen to us as long as we just stick to each other. Ice skating on the other hand was a complete new territory for me, and what was supposed to be a disaster became one of the best memories that I have. Why? Simply because not for a single second I was alone. There was always someone next to me grabbing my hand, keeping me from falling or helping me up without making a fool of myself. Are those people childhood friends? No. However, I know I can count on them. They are living the exact same experience that I am and they can feel how much sharing with one another is what makes this adventure an amazing one.
Does this mean that I don’t miss home anymore? Of course not! However, it means that I don’t want to leave this place without making the most out of this experience. Every day, I discover a new thing and step by step, DC becomes less of a mystery. I will never “fully” know DC, but when I will become familiar with most of it, I will be able to finally say that I am ready to go back home. The unknown must become known and I need to be brave enough to go beyond my limits and do what I have never been able to do out of fear.
A week ago, I was afraid of going to sleep because I was cold, alone and completely terrified. Today, going to bed has become one of my favorite parts of the day. The coziness of the bed, the warmth of my blanket and the comfort of my pillow are things that I look forward to meeting again after a long day of shopping and touring. I start thinking of the room that am currently occupying as “mine”, and not just some random room on George Washington University’s campus. I am starting to get used to my new habits and this means that I am not scared anymore. Having something constant in my life that I can rely on is what keeps me from losing my mind. In Washington DC, I am lucky enough to have two things that are constant: my room and my incredible new friends.
I don’t quite know how life at GWU is going to become once the courses will begin. Does it scare me? Yes! Does it terrify me? Absolutely not: I have my constants in my life that will always keep me balanced. Going to classes is also a new experience that we will get to share with one another and I can’t wait to start complaining about a crazy professor, a lazy teammate or talking about how great the new course that I added is. Then, waking up each morning to go to class will become a constant and new things, unknown scary things, will start popping up. All I will have left to do is deal with them one at a time. This is the beauty of life: you don’t have time to get bored. Having particular habits have a tendency to be reassuring; but when we decide to stick with the reassuring part of life, we end up missing out on the exciting one, the one that is the main ingredient for great memories…