Embarking on a year abroad was a scary but exciting thing. I am someone who usually embraces change and it doesn’t take me too long to adjust to new things. Moving to San Diego for a year on my own is the biggest change I’ve ever embarked upon as not only am I away from the people I know, I am also away from the culture and way of life I know. So, I found myself having to construct a different life whilst understanding the academic and cultural disparities of a new place.
Being an introvert, I really enjoy my own space and being alone, but I never really understood the value of being around people you know till I came here. Just knowing that there are some people I can call who know me and who I feel comfortable around created a sort of safety blanket around me, and this led me to not seek new friendships. After all, having a small number of friends is ideal right? But being in America and not being able to call people whenever I wanted, due to the time difference, forced me to go outside of my comfort zone and form new friendships. I have met people that I would not necessarily even cross paths with in my little bubble back home, and I have come to value having a diversity of friends.
I have also found that being alone has given me a greater sense of clarity regarding who I am and what I like. Observing who and what I naturally gravitate towards has enabled me to see what my default settings are; and then I have the choice to follow that or change it. Sometimes I question whether I do things because I like them or because that’s what I’ve always done, and I question whether the type of friends I have is just due to familiarity. But being in a new place takes away all sense of familiarity and has allowed me to filter out the things I do purely because of familiarity.
Although San Diego is not known for creativity, just being in a new place has given me access to new locations and new people to shoot with. I have really developed my skills and fallen deeper in love with photography. San Diego is a very sunny, friendly and adventurous city and these characteristics have had a positive impact on me.
Overall, I have really grown in the small amount of time I’ve been here. I have been forced out of my comfort zone in many different ways, even though I sometimes find myself retreating back inside my shell. If you have the opportunity to do a year or semester abroad, or even just to be in a different environment for a while, I highly recommend it. This experience has really changed my perspective.