Independence in London
*This is the essay I wrote for the AIFS Generation Study Abroad Scholarship Essay before studying abroad.*
Independence. It’s what my country is founded on; we have a large and very important document that says so. It’s what many countries and states and cities yearn for. When we think about independence, we usually think of it on a larger scale, of the clustered countries all with their own governments and rules of life, independent from everyone else. But on the rare occasion, we think of it on a smaller scale. Cities, schools, organizations can be independent too. And even on a smaller scale, one that is often overlooked as well, someone might think of an independent person when they hear independence.
Independence has always been a trait of mine. I never really relied on people, besides the obviously childhood state that we all pass through, and I made myself my own person. I didn’t want to be attached or indebted to anyone else. During my junior year of high school, my independence really flourished, but not until college was I sure that independent was an adjective I would use to describe myself. When I started college, I moved almost two thousand miles away from my home and family. This was an independent move. I made the choice on my own, applied to school on my own, and had faith in myself that I could make this move and be far away from everything I have ever known.
Settling into a new city, a new way of life as a college student was rocky at first to say the least, but I assimilated quickly, because after all I am an independent person. I made my own rules, stuck to my own schedule, and certainly didn’t let anyone dictate what I should be doing with my own time. However, that all changed last year.
Last year, my sophomore year, I met someone. Someone who was different than the other someones I had met the year before. And this someone is still my someone today. I gave myself to him and he to me. I finally found that missing piece I had been searching for. Our relationship was, and still is, beautiful and everything I want in a relationship. But then I noticed something, something I didn’t even realize was happening. I had lost a trait I prided myself on. I lost my independence.
I love my boyfriend very dearly and the thought of leaving for several months will hurt tremendously, but my independence is something that I need to get back. I realized that I had completely given myself over to him and that we are one person and it is wonderful, but at times it can be unhealthy. I noticed that I didn’t want to do anything alone, or without him I should clarify, and that scared me because I used to crave solitude. I couldn’t wait for my house or the bus to be empty so I could sit and stare out into my city that I greatly adapted to. But now, I want to be with my boyfriend at all hours of the day. Going to the grocery store seems meaningless when there isn’t someone standing there with you, watching you argue with yourself over mayonnaise.
I fully accepted that being in a relationship means giving yourself over to the other person, and vice versa, and this what my boyfriend and I have done and I love it. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose some parts of me and so studying abroad in London will give me back some of my independence. I don’t need all of it back because that would mean that we aren’t in a relationship anymore, I just need to make sure that I can live without him if something were to happen.
London has always been the place of my dreams. I knew that in grade school and high school that I wanted to be an English Literature major and revel in many books by many famous authors. So when study abroad was brought up, I knew instantly where and why I wanted to go. England is the motherland of literature. From Shakespeare to the Brontë Sisters and more have all passed through the streets of London and made their writings known. I want to walk in their footsteps and be inspired by their ways of life and the modern day London.
What I learn in London, other parts of England, and other parts of Europe, I will bring back with me. This knowledge won’t just be exclusive to my friends back home, instead I will incorporate it into my everyday life. My college here has a fantastic education program, where undergraduate students can also take graduate-level courses in the Art of Teaching and then finish their schooling in five years with both a Bachelors and Masters in Education degree. This program will put me in a high school in the San Francisco area where I will then teach the youth all about literature, and therefore my experience in London. When teachers are passionate about the topics, and give interesting facts or information that can’t necessarily be found in the books, and even provide anecdotes from their own experiences, the students really can connect and relate to them. Teachers that just follow the textbook and rarely offer up stories about their own lives are uninspiring and usually bore the students. I do not want to be that kind of teacher. As a teacher I will have to be independent. A teacher who second guesses themselves, will surely second guess the students and therefore will not be good in their position. I want to be sure of myself when I stand up in the front of the room and lecture about Shakespeare and other English authors.
London will assure me that I am on the right track. It will give me back something that I misplaced and that I need to continue on in my beautiful and loving relationship, but also in my future and career later on. Going to London will give me the tools I need to be independent.