I am very happy to say the anticipation of separation was the worst part of leaving the country to study. It is generally discomforting to leave what feels safe and comfortable, and embark on something new. This separation is a difficult transition, however it slowly expands the comfort zone and truly reinforces my appreciation for all of my connections, friends, and family back home.
Leaving for Madrid, I was on a flight with many of my friends, and we experienced this initial separation from home with companions, making it an easy transition. Leaving for Buenos Aires, however, I have a distinct memory of the engine of the plane starting and pulling away from the gate, as I looked around me and didn’t know anyone on the flight. I heard a hectic mix of unfamiliar Spanish dialects and felt a panic, although I knew it was too late to change my mind. I reassured myself that over the course of the semester, I would expand my comfort zone just as I had in the past, and that the awful pit in my stomach on the flight would only result in personal development in the coming months, imagining a more confident, comfortable version of myself returning back to the United States from the adventure.
After four years of high school, and a lifetime on Long Island, I was much less anxious to move south and start a new life at Tulane. Leaving Tulane, however, as my recently-made acquaintances at college stayed and enjoyed their junior year in a familiar environment, moving into off-campus houses and gaining even more comfort in the city, I felt extremely disoriented relocating yet again. Not only confused by the frequent relocations, I have been shocked that my time in Europe and South America led me to miss New Orleans, my recent home, much more than my hometown and everything I had known prior to college.
Each excursion and vacation outside of my places of study, from New York to New Orleans, Madrid, and Buenos Aires has made each of the prior locations feel more and more like home. Even after a weekend trip to Uruguay in the beginning of my semester, I returned to Buenos Aires feeling like home because it was comfortable and familiar. This is because our comfort zones are relative, and the more frequently we get out of the comfort zone, the more comfortable the familiar places become. I am now appreciative of all of the times that I feel scared, out of place, or uncomfortable, in knowing the fact that each trip outside of my comfort zone only expands my confidence in myself and comfort in my environment.