Features

Abroad Profile: Filling the empty spaces

Jordan Javelet

Contributing Editor

I have never been particularly good with change. Up until now, the biggest change I had ever experienced was moving from my home in Denver to attend Goucher, and let me assure you—the transition was terrifying to me. Suddenly, I was on the other side of the country with no friends, no familiar spaces or comfort zones, no support other than what my parents could offer me over the phone. I spent nearly two weeks going through the motions of life and falling into bed at night, completely disheartened by my paralyzing fear of change.

But after two weeks, I began opening up. I made new friends. I became familiar with Goucher’s campus. I formed a support group of faculty members and fellow students. I no longer felt empty, and I was proud of my accomplishment. I actually grew to like the change from my hometown.

It was then that I realized that change was not really the thing that scared me: I was afraid of the transition that must take place for change to occur. I picture it like coming to the end of the chapter in the book and then turning the page to start the next chapter—the end of one chapter might be sad, but there is hope when the new chapter begins. The scary part is the blank space in between the last line of one chapter and the first line of the next, where all the doubt and uncertainty waits to seize you. What if you turn the page and hate follows? What if it’s nothing like you anticipated or imagined it would be?

All change comes with this empty space between what has been and what will be. It is the transition period between starting a new job, the settling in when you move to a new house. It is the tenuous limbo between here and there, the uncertain helplessness between now and then.

The blank space in my journey abroad has not been easy. I arrived in England a day before my program started, which meant I had one night completely alone in a hotel room across the world from anything I knew. I was trapped in the white space between chapters, waiting for the page to turn.

I spent the first two days in London craving some sort of permanence in my life. I was living out of two suitcases in a hotel room, I had no friends, and I certainly didn’t feel anything familiar. Looking around London was difficult because it felt almost like New York City, but there was this strange foreignness—something I couldn’t even fully describe—that kept me from feeling at home. I was scared that the blank space would never end, that I would never turn the page, never start my next chapter.

But then I remembered something: when I went to Goucher, I was unhappy until I took the initiative to make friends and familiarize myself with Goucher’s campus and the surrounding area. So on my third night in London, I decided to forego staying in the cocoon of my hotel room watching House of Cards on Netflix and, instead, venture out with my orientation group at ten o’clock at night in Central London. As we walked through the city, we began a lively discussion about free will and morality, quoting reputable sources, excitedly interjecting our insights, and I began to feel comfortable again. My knowledge became my comfort zone, confirming that I have something valuable to share, and suddenly I felt connected to ten new friends. And just like that, the blank space finally ended.

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