Arriving in the dreary little town of Hatfield in the middle of winter wasn’t necessarily the best way to start this stint abroad. Honestly, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Is this the right choice?” on a daily basis. Winter was here, heavy and dark. It wasn’t going anywhere (not sure if it has, despite it being March!). I will be honest, there were a lot of tears the first few weeks. Tears, cups of tea and long naps. I wasn’t making any friends, I was becoming a sad, homesick recluse. I was surprised. I thought I would do better than that. I had read all about culture shock and adjustment, knowing that some people have a hard time at first. I was so convinced I would be ok that my period of being lost hit me hard. I felt awkward, out of place, alone. Like my feet were too big for my body and I couldn’t walk a straight line. It was bizarre.
Until I realized that life wasn’t going to happen FOR me. I had to do something about it. So off I went, camera in hand. I tried to get out of the house, explore the area. After all, here I was in the heart of Pride and Prejudice country – rolling hills and pastures, lovely woods and pleasant English pubs. I gave it my best and found things improving. I found beautiful parks to go walking in, I made an effort to meet new people, and I finally started eating proper meals. Things were looking better. Hatfield is still a bit dreary. Perhaps the town that someone forgot, with a massive chip on its shoulder. But there is charm to be found nearby.
Yes, this adjustment was hard. Very hard. But certainly, incredibly worthwhile. I’m starting to learn a lot about myself, what I need to be happy and what makes me feel safe. I’m interested to see how the next few months pan out, before my return to Canada. Seems silly to have spent so much time worrying and hiding under my covers. There is adventure out there, waiting for me and I intend to find it.