Many Contacts

Going abroad to discover within

Originally written May 2014

Soaking in the scenery around me I stop dead in my tracks and begin to realize that I am actually in London. I stand in the very place that people in medieval times stood. I am immersed in a culture that still places an emphasis on the queen and monarchy. I am surrounded by buildings that were constructed hundreds of years ago and a city that captures both the past and the present.
I have always fantasized what London looked like, how it differed from America, and what a typical day of a Londoner consisted of. I would find myself assuming that life was better in a place like London, that people must consume themselves with the history of the past and take in the beauty of the various cathedrals, castles, old ruins, and buildings built as old as the 15thcentury.

When coming here and testing my imagination with reality, I noticed that Londoners pursue much of the same daily routines as Americans. Although Londoner’s live on a different continent, have a British accent, and drive on the left side of the street, we are not that much different from one another. We all go to work, school, pursue hobbies, and hangout with friends and family. Although England is much older than America and contains far more history, there are things to appreciate in every country. 
Although I won’t be able to see the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from a café in Seattle, I can appreciate the beauty of everyday life no matter where I am. Life is not necessarily better here than it is in America. It is our mindset that determines whether we will enjoy the place we are in, wherever that may be.
We often have “ the grass is greener on the other side” mentality. We think that Europe is far more interesting and fascinating than the place we currently reside. Just a week ago I was talking to a Londoner who said that living in America appealed more to him than England did. We get so wrapped up in thinking about the places that we need to visit or the things that we need to buy, that we forget to enjoy the moment we are in. 
We set expectations, plan months in advance, and outline our entire lives, yet are still never satisfied. We want things we don’t have and set out to reach goals that won’t make a difference as soon as they are achieved. We want to be happy, yet seek instant gratification. Our lives are one gigantic list; checking off things we think are essential to our happiness. 
We live in a society that is dictated by the type of job we have, who we know, and the progress we have made in each stage of our lives. We are so busy running around and pursing meaningless things that we don’t take the time to get to know ourselves and understand why we act the way we do. We are so busy caring what other people think of us, that we refrain from being our true selves. Start living, start embracing the simple things that make life beautiful, and begin discovering who you are.
The world is massive and we are only a tiny spec in it. I am beginning to wrap my head around that very fact and learn how culture gives us a better understanding of not only people, but also the places that those people reside. As I am entering my fourth week of living in London, I have learned more about myself than I have in my entire life. I have begun analyzing my personality and understanding what makes me the way I am. I am beginning to get over the fear of traveling to new places by myself, embracing change, and taking time to myself. I have started living life and not planning it out.
They say that world travel is the best form of education. However, a person gets the most out of traveling if they learn to be content no matter where they are and abandon “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality. We have to find beauty in our own selves, as cliché as that sounds, before we can truly enjoy the beauty of the world.
We think we know who we are or what we want, but it’s taking the time to truly examine ourselves and be content both at home and abroad that is truly important.

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