When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers told me to think of a big dream. I told her I wanted to see the world. She said, “Bryson, work hard and it will see you.”
My dream came true when I traveled the world by sea three years ago, but I never imagined I’d be moving to a different country for half a year.
Today is the day—the day I begin a new chapter, one in which the word “color” is spelled “colour.”
For the next six months, I’ll be living in Grantham, England while I work as a media/communications intern for Harlaxton College, a study abroad program that allows American students to live and learn in an incredible manor house. This manor house is one room shy of a castle—I’m not saying that to be sarcastic. It’s literally one room shy of being classified as a castle. Don’t believe me? Pics will come soon enough.
So what is my job for Harlaxton? I’ll be taking care if it’s photography, videography, social media, yearbook, internal communications, and more fun stuff like that. I’ll also get to do some chaperoning (that means free travelllllll), event coordinating, and some close interactions with students. I might be consoling a homesick sorority girl or taking some frat dude to the ER because he had too much Strongbow. Hopefully the latter won’t happen, but you get the point—no two days at the manor will be the same.
I’ll have several weekends to travel independently so look for posts about little ole me rolling into Spain or Ireland for a couple days at a time. Did that sound as weird to read to you as it was for me to write?
I really don’t know how I got this gig. I applied for it midway through my last semester and I accepted the position in April. If you think the position was a single bead on a long line of options—it wasn’t.
As people graduate college, most apply for jobs and internships for months and send out countless résumés. I did not. I put all my eggs in one basket and just applied for Harlaxton, which, looking back, probably wasn’t the smartest decision on my part. But I wanted Harlaxton. I put my heart and soul into my application. And I got it.
A cap and gown, summer job, substitute teaching escapade, and an extremely long visa process later, here I am, sitting on a plane, writing this blogpost, and on my way to my dream internship for half a year.
I could write a book about preparing to come to England. The Olympiad struggle of fitting six months worth of stuff into a checked bag, carry-on, and backpack. The goodbyes during Christmas between gifts and cookies. The process of basically selling my future firstborn son to get my work visa on time (fun fact: it only showed up six days ago). But I want to share what I’m feeling.
On one hand, there’s the nervousness. I’ve had several moments over the last month or so when, I’ve thought, “Oh my gosh. I’m about to move across the world completely by myself. I have trouble remembering to take my laundry out of the dryer. How am I supposed to live in another country?” And every now and then, I’ve broken into a cold sweat. It’s fine.
And then there’s the parts of leaving that make it hard to leave. A few days ago as I packed up my things and left my house I allowed myself to feel that part.
I had just spent the weekend surrounded by friends as we celebrated Christmas together, ate way too much, played games, made fun of each other, and surrounded ourselves with love. And as I packed up my things, said goodbye to my best friend/roommate, and drove away, I thought.
I thought about how toddlers change and look different every single day. And how my niece and my nephews will not be the same kids they were when I come back.
I thought about smelling my house. As you leave your house for vacation and you come back, you can smell your house, and you think, “Is this what my house smells like to people who don’t live here?” And I thought about how strong it would be after not living there for six months.
And I thought about the people who constantly surround me. The people who make me better—the people who can get under my skin but who genuinely care and how for six months they will be a face on a screen or a sound on the phone. And for five minutes, I allowed myself to really feel it.
But mostly, it’s the excitement. Traveling is my absolute favorite thing. I love the rush of being somewhere new and paying attention to my five senses when I discover a new world. How light comes through a window and illuminates a room, and how people talk to their children on a train, and what a 500-year-old building smells like.
I love the rush of being challenged. Of losing my way and then finding it. Of setting out for somewhere and then getting there.
And that feeling is extraordinary.
I’m so excited to begin this opportunity of a lifetime, and I really want to share it with you. So, stay tuned as I update my blog about my experiences. I’m going on an adventure, and I’m taking you with me.