I prayed to make a few friends during my time abroad, and I got just that. I initially envisioned being surrounded by a large group of people and growing close with most of them, but I found peace and happiness in the end result. One note I'd like to make to anyone who may also be more reserved like me is that you should never force yourself to foster relationships with more people than you're genuinely interested in. I've made that mistake in so many different stages in my life, and I am blessed to finally understand and embrace my own boundaries.
Of course, there may be more extroverted people in your cohort of students abroad, but never succumb to any pressure to make yourself (negatively) uncomfortable by exceeding your limits. Now, I do suggest stepping out of your comfort zone to the extent that you're trying something new and beneficial. For instance, I went to the club for the first time. Was it my cup of tea? No. Am I glad that I went? Absolutely. Allow your time abroad to be an endless list of firsts.
In terms of making friends, I had the opportunity to connect with different groups of people I probably wouldn't have ever come across (at least before this experience). I got along very well with two students in London in the IES Abroad program, one whose background is a bit similar to mine and another who is completely different. I am forever grateful for these two individuals because they definitely contributed greatly to my experience, and I wouldn't have had as much fun without them there with me.
I didn't establish any deep connections with local students at Oxford, and I've found that that is a common circumstance within the visiting student community. I was, however, surprised by the disconnect between myself and other African American students at Oxford. It almost goes without saying—the pool of Black Oxford students is small in comparison to the overall population of students at the University. If anything, I expected this to be all the more reason for Black students to be more welcoming and united with one another. Maybe it is because I am not from the UK, but the fact that very few would look me in the eye (let alone converse with me) caught me off guard.
Through the ups and downs of my social experience in London and Oxford, I've become even closer with my friends from home. I met them at my home institution, and even though we are all in completely different parts of the U.S., we've managed to build such strong friendships with one another. Their love and support are essential to my journey, and I don't even want to imagine how life would be without them. In the past, whenever I was told that I'd make my real friends in college, I never took it seriously and was often annoyed by it, but now I've accepted it as the truth. I will never take friendship for granted, as it is a privilege to experience something that comes a dime a dozen. I am more than excited to continue to grow as I embark on my journey, and I am happy that my friends are there for me as I am for them.
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I am Timaira Mya Hinton, a lady of many passions and missions to fulfill. Defined by the carousel of my mind, I am embarking on the journey of life that is saturated with adventures, love, writing, violin, and (of course) the Sims.