COLUMN: Out of Your Comfort Zone and Into the World

Tyler Wailes

This column is part of a series written by Tyler Wailes. Wailes is on a study abroad trip and each week she shares her experience with Spinnaker readers. This column gets published every Friday.

Embarking on a solo study abroad for the first time can be intimidating. Believe me, I had many “why did I do this to myself” moments during my departure process. I began to doubt the year and half of work I had put into this trip — an adventure I had been dreaming of since childhood — and allowed myself to listen to the voice of fear that was living in the back of my mind. What on earth was I thinking, thrusting myself into this great unknown when I was comfortable in Jacksonville.

After living there for three years, the University of North Florida had become a second home to me. Why would I leave the campus that provided me with a sense of belonging and purpose and a city built of memories and lifelong friendships, to go somewhere that, up until then, I could only imagine? The entire venture began to feel like a dream I could not remember. I’d close me eyes, trying to picture what my life would look like for the next five months and quickly found my attempts were for naught.

Tyler Wailes
The Eye of London

For a short time I allowed myself to wallow in my apprehension because, after all, I am only human; but I soon found my more rational self nipping my hesitation in the bud. This opportunity I had been given was not meant to be feared, but embraced. I was walking toward uncharted ground, this is true, but I knew no new world was ever discovered by someone who did not dare to move. So, in turn, I packed up my bags, put on my coat, tied the laces of my waterproof boots, and began the hike of discovery.

Upon my arrival at the University of Hertfordshire, I was greeted with the warmest of welcomes, quickly putting all of my previous worries to shame. Within my first hour on the premises, the university staff had already offered to take me on a tour of the campus and a trip to the local supermarket to pick up some things for everyday living. Being without a vehicle of my own and an uncertainty of how the public transportation operated, I quickly jumped on the offer.

I then sat in a university van, with an English driver positioned on the right side of the automobile, next to several international students, each from a different country. As we drove down the road, through four separate roundabouts, we introduced ourselves to one another. We soon pulled into the ASDA parking lot, a store very similar to that of Walmart or Target. After grabbing a trolly and making our way through the front door, the Canadian, Indian, Swiss, Norwegian, and American proceeded to walk down each aisle, completing our shopping lists together. It was in this moment, I realized that the decision I had made a year and a half ago to step out of my comfort zone and into the world, would expand my horizons in ways I could not have foreseen.

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