Okay, so I didn’t actually cry. It just makes for a catchier title to say that I did. The truth is, I didn’t cry, but I certainly wanted to. The other day, I had some British friends over to my flat. It happened to be raining that evening, so many of them showed up varying degrees of soaked. I noticed some people were more cold and wet than others, so I offered them tea to help them warm up. One of them made a comment that they were actually going to make themselves tea when they first arrived, but they noticed the milk in the fridge had expired.
I know he didn’t mean anything by it and it was more of a statement of fact than anything else, so why did it make me want to cry? In these past few weeks, I have realized more and more that I set an enormously high bar for myself in terms of what I can handle in life. Studying abroad is a lot. It is unavoidably a huge transition that has a lot of very complicated elements. Right now, I am still a full-time student, but I also have a job. Being an intern and student while trying to maintain something of a social life and feeling the pressure that you also have to be doing the most incredible adventurous things every spare moment just because you’re abroad is a lot. That might be the longest sentence I’ve ever written, but that is a bit of what it feels like.
So, back to the expired milk. Why did I want to cry? Because in that moment, I had failed. I love hosting and being able to take care of the people who I love. Many people were soaked and I felt so bad that I didn’t have milk and tea bags on hand for them to have. I deeply felt my not-enoughness. In fact, I felt it so deep that I briefly considered sneaking out of my own flat in the rain just go buy milk and tea.
Here’s the truth about studying abroad: there are moments when you mess up. There are moments when the milk is expired and your British friends have to settle for herbal tea. More and more, I’ve come to learn that the times that I make mistakes are the times that I learn the most about myself. I’ve been learning about having grace with myself. I would say my London experience has been mostly positive thus far. I love my job, my classes, and my friends. Managing a lot is just a lot. That’s okay. It is okay to take a weekend in London instead of going to a new country every weekend. It is okay to go to bed early to take care of yourself instead of going to a new pub every night. It is okay to order Papa John’s instead of Pizza Express if that is what helps you. More than anything, study abroad is about finding a balance of all of the aspects of your life. Making mistakes is a good thing because those mistakes are often the best learning times. Have grace with yourself abroad. There are moments that you will have your own expired milk and that’s completely fine. Living abroad wouldn’t be nearly as fun if everything was perfect all of the time.