It’s pretty common for teens to wish they were on their own, living the independent life, with no parental units breathing down their necks. We’ve all been through that. I’ve always wanted to be independent — I’ve always dreamt of going to university, living on my own, setting my own curfew, exploring and absorbing culture through my pores. I just never thought that time would come so soon. I’d always prepared myself for the separation from my parents after I graduated. It was the norm. I’d come to terms that graduation marked the beginning of my adult life. But, alas, that is not always true.
It was the summer after my junior year. Australia wasn’t a curve ball my parents threw out of nowhere; it’s been in the works since the beginning of the school year. I was excited. And nervous. Really, really nervous. I was no stranger to uprooting to a strange land; I’ve had to move to Saudi Arabia at 9. Settling into Saudi Arabia, however, is far easier than Australia. You’d think, “Well, you’ve lived in a conservative society all your life, wouldn’t you want to be independent?” I did. But there was a catch.
I had to do it without my parents.
They flew Down Under with me, of course, but they were only around for 1 week. I was only 17. How was I supposed to survive three months and three weeks without my parents?! They don’t teach you this kind of stuff in school. But thankfully, my mamma didn’t raise no fool. I could take care of my basic necessities just fine – I knew how to wash my clothes, change my sheets, wash the dishes, clean my room, the simpler stuff. I just couldn’t handle finances well. But it wasn’t something I couldn’t learn.
“When I first moved to London, I felt very homesick and yearned after the countryside a lot. Because London’s hard. It’s a big place, and it’s lonely. It takes a while to get into it. But once I got into the flow of it and started to grow up, I realized that my home is wherever I am.”
– Toby Kebbell
Because I am underage, I had to stay in a home-stay. Living in a home-stay helped ease the homesickness – my host will usually have guests and they would treat me, almost, like their own. It made me feel very welcomed, except when they would begin to speak to each other. That always throws me off course. I went from smiling, laughing and trying to make small talk to just staring at a point on the wall or just staring at the TV as they spoke in rapid-fire Greek. 0 – 100 real quick. But I got used to it.
It was a challenge for me to enjoy myself here. There was this one time that a friend of mine pointed out that I was very cheerful and I was “emoting”. It was very interesting of her to say that – I had always thought I was emoting. Unknowingly, I had this solemn, somber, indifferent look on my face if I wasn’t particularly into conversations; probably an RBF but sadder. I was immensely insecure about being miles and miles away from my comfort zones. It was my defense mechanism.
I didn’t want to be one of those small town people who forgot themselves once they moved to the big city, the big leagues. Focused on not losing myself and home, I refused to enjoy what Sydney had to offer. But that always resulted in my sitting in my room, taking long walks down memory lane and getting lost in a whirlwind of emotions. That’s not healthy.
Coming back for my second semester here, I’ve resolved to enjoy myself. Sure, I’ve had to grow up and mature pretty quickly, and I’m still a bundle of nerves anxiety. But, I’ve begun to accept that I’m 17 and miles away from home. It can only be a good thing in the long run and it’s the start of something great. The weather will change but it doesn’t mean I can’t get the most out of it.
I’ve got a mission here and that’s to make my parents proud, to make myself proud, and to grow. Like waves in the stormy ocean, responsibility and life broke the shores of my consciousness and washed me awake. Trying to surf the waves when I’ve only been practicing for 3 days is deadly. I will fall and get hurt but I’d hurt myself even more if I didn’t try.
It wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy and I don’t expect it to be. I’ve always got support from my loving parents and my wonderful friends back home and here Down Under. To help myself enjoy myself Down Under, I chronicle my adventures on my blog here and through photos on my gallery.
How long was I going to live under my parents’ wings?
I’ve got my own. Let’s give them a test run.