When I first arrived at 9 Canterbury Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX2 6LU, it seemed as though I was arriving at a summer camp.
Our house director, Jacqueline Morrison, led us on our first tour through the main city center. I remember thinking that Oxford looked impossibly overwhelming.
I quickly realized this new setting was more permanent than temporary. We were not just spending a few weeks at a summer camp, but over four months in a new home.
Everything seemed out of place and harder to get to. I missed my family. I missed my friends. I even missed small town Abilene. I missed the familiarity of my routine on campus, the easy access to popular food chains, and my sweet, caramel iced lattes from Starbucks.
No matter where you go there will always be the idea that the grass is greener on the other side. Believe me, I had longed for the opportunity to see more of the world, especially Europe, and now that I was finally here I was wanting Abilene? The secret to fighting this battle is knowing that one day you will miss where you are now and appreciating where you find yourself in this very moment.
I appreciate the warmth of British pastries. I appreciate the sounds of different languages and accents on the streets. I appreciate the beauty of the ancient architecture, the moss, the tall trees and the light from the lamp posts at night.
I have slowly acquired a new routine that seems as second-nature to me now as walking to the Bean from Moody. Every morning, I take a fifteen minute walk to our class that is held in a Quaker meeting house. Then I may stop for a cappuccino and study session at Green’s Café. If I need groceries I make a trip to TESCO’s food mart, making sure to remember my reusable bag to carry them in.
Oxford is becoming the new familiar. I know now that I am about two minutes from our house when I pass the bus station bench on the right with the pole. I know that the two main roads sandwiching the house are Banbury and Woodstock. I know that I can find the best fresh produce at the Covered Market in city center, the best shopping is done at Westgate shopping mall, and I could give directions to the fastest route to Gloucester Green Bus Station.
These are all things that come over time spent doing life in a new place. The unknown becomes known and Oxford becomes home.