Growing Up Away from Home

My phone was buzzing nonstop– something has to be wrong, I thought. After seeing all of the missed calls and messages I took a deep breath and called back, waiting to hear the worst. But what I heard were cries of joy on the other end of the phone, “I’m pregnant,” my mom said.

We joke around a lot, my mom and I, so I replied with a laugh, “Yeah, really funny, mom.”

She finally got me to believe her, especially when I checked the message that contained a picture of her positive pregnancy test. This is what brought the tears to my eyes, I cried over the phone with her for a while after seeing that.

My mom always wanted a third child, I knew this was something she had waited a very long time for and I couldn’t have been happier.

But I was also worried about many different things. I had some shallow thoughts, like, I’m 20 years older than my younger brother, that’s weird, right? But that just made me realize I’m kind of awful. I also thought about my mom’s age since she was 40 at the time.

I found out about her pregnancy while I was studying in London, which also made me feel bad because I would be missing out on my mother’s pregnancy and not there for her when she needed me most. I felt bad about missing her doctor appointments and not being present at the ultrasounds, watching her stomach grow (instead I could only see from photos she would send), I wasn’t able to feel her belly the first time he kicked, or take care of her when she just needed to rest.

My sister and my father would keep me updated on her and the baby’s progress and also send me pictures. But the truth is seeing your loved ones change and transform through a cracked iPhone screen is not something I would prefer.

Now my little brother is six months old and I am utterly obsessed with him…and I’m leaving. Again.

Nine months is a long time, especially with an infant. So much happens so quickly— first steps, first words, first birthdays—firsts that no one wants to miss. So I debated about even going abroad anymore, unsure of what to do.

But now my mind is made up and I have decided to go. In our lives we are always going to be faced with difficult decisions, and this is definitely one of mine. You just have to know when to put yourself first, even if you do feel incredibly selfish.

When it comes to study abroad, we hear about Euro-trips, staying out until 5 am, getting lost in foreign cities, and even falling in love with a local. But what you aren’t told is how hard it’s going to be.

Yes, it is undoubtedly the best time of your college experience, but it can also be a struggle for most people. This goes beyond the homesickness that hits you after a few weeks of being in your host country. It’s all fun until you start missing your loved ones and the birthdays, gatherings, and milestones in their lives. You’re living out your own adventure but it’s hard to forget about those you’ve left behind.

While I can’t be more excited for the adventure this nine- month journey holds, in the back of my mind I still fear the challenges I faced during my first four months of previously studying abroad will return.

While abroad I was in a triple with two of my very close friends from first semester, and as the semester went on, I liked going on my own every once in a while and my friends became much closer to each other. I had other friends in the house, but the feeling of being left out is not something I would wish on anyone, especially in their own dorm room. Feeling left out, which could have even just been in my own head, combined with all of these feelings of homesickness and being alienated in a different country really hit me hard.

This was around a month into my program, and I had doubted myself in being able to get through the semester, it was something I didn’t share with anyone at the time. Things turned around and eventually got better after that and I ended up having the time of my life.

But my point is that while it was amazing, there definitely those times where you just break down, even when you keep yourself thinking “I can do this.”

There were times that I wished I wasn’t alone, despite all of the close friends I had made during my time, there is nothing like the comforting feeling of being near your loved ones.

Sometimes you just want a home cooked meal and a hug, a nasty slobbery kiss from your dog, maybe you even miss getting yelled at by your parents because of some dumb decision you made. It’s indescribable, but being in another country isolated from all you know can get to a person. I can’t help but worry about how hard it will be now that I also have a little brother to miss.

I never doubted my love for travel and study abroad throughout all of this—but it makes me apprehensive to board the plane to England for nine months. I will get to travel, create bonds and relationships with new people, and discover more about myself. I feel at ease with the support I have from my family, because without them I don’t think I could possibly do it. These are opportunities I couldn’t possibly pass up, I just have to keep fighting.

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