9000 km Away From My Comfort Zone

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2007, August 16. – Outside of Ordinary

It was late afternoon and as we walked outside the airport, I felt like I stepped inside of a sauna. What on earth?! I said out loud and as I looked at my friend I saw the same disappointment on her face. We have never experienced such heat before and even though we knew it was going to be warm in Phoenix, actually feeling it on our skin left us both in shock.

– Don’t worry, we are almost there – she said and then added a very sarcastic “ONLY 2 more hours” at the end. Which seems like nothing, but at that point two hours seemed like forever to us. We were traveling for almost 21 hours, we had two layovers and spent at least three hours at the border after landing in the United States.
– I am nervous! – I said as we were slowly dragging ourselves towards our 30 passenger flight on the runway barely able to breath in the 110 degree heat. 
– Nervous about flying with that thing or nervous about our new life?
– I guess both. But if this plane doesn’t make it, at least I don’t have to be nervous about the rest.
– Staying positive, I like it – she added.

And as we were walking up on the narrow steps to go inside the tiniest plane I have ever seen, I started laughing:

– Oh man, what have we done?!

2007. August 15. (The day before) –  My Ordinary

After waking up I was laying in bed quietly, trying to memorize every detail of my room. I was staring at my pictures, my posters, the books on my shelves, that couple years old rose that was hanging on the side of my shelf, and even the little spider web that has been in the upper right corner of my room for so long. It was out of reach and lately I have felt very generous, so I never got rid of the little guy. I thought it would be bad luck. He was at a far enough distance and we just lived next to each other in peace. I kind of liked him at the end.

I grew up in this room. My shelves and walls were packed with little knick-knacks that represented important times in my life but would probably mean nothing to someone else. To be honest, I already had every corner memorized but I was still afraid to forget about something. My parents built this house, we shared great memories there and I was going to miss everything about it. I am gonna miss my friends and my town, I am gonna miss speaking Hungarian and eating delicious goulash on Sundays being surrounded with family. I am about to fly 9000 km away to a place where I have never been, to speak a language that I barely speak, to live in a dorm room with someone I never met. This whole idea sounded much better a couple months ago, but now that my departure date was so close, I wished I could just turn around and change my mind. I was mentally digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole when my mom came to my room screaming of joy and jumped in bed with me.

– Good Morning my wonderful, little traveler! – she said
– Gooood Morning moooom! – I said it while rolling my eyes 
– Wanna drink some coffee? – she asked with a huge smile
– I guess! – I said with a forced/fake smile as I was sitting up in bed

We have a tradition in our family. Mostly on the weekends but all four of us had hot chocolate or coffee in bed together in the morning. My parents went and made the drinks while my sister and I crawled under their covers. When they returned we all sat in bed and talked while sipping on our delicious warm drinks. 

– What if I don’t go? – I said
– Well then you will throw away everything you have been working towards in the past 12 years. – came the reply from my mom way too fast
– If you put it that way…- I mumbled under my breath while focusing on the melting whipped cream in my coffee.

Even though she was putting on a brave face, I know she was sad too. She is my best friend and I never spent more than 3 days away from her. Now I was going to leave for 4 months to only come back for 4 weeks and then leave again for another 6 months. But we both agreed this is for the best and I really wanted to do this. I just wasn’t sure about it anymore…

2007. August 16 – My New Ordinary

As we approached the Flagstaff airport, I pressed my forehead against the tiny window and looked down. I stared at the blinking city lights and the uncertainty that was awaiting us. The city was strange, the cars were huge and the food was something we were not used to; not to mention the empty dorm rooms and the plain white walls with no memories or knick-knacks. The climate was different and because of the elevation, we were gasping for air for days.

We were standing on the curb with our two luggages in front of the tiny Flagstaff airport, waiting for our cab, exhausted, tired; and we didn’t know what to expect next.

Suddenly a cab pulled up and a guy hopped out of it with a huge smile on his face, greeting us warmly:

– Hi Guys!!!! How are you doing on this beautiful night?

And as he grabbed our luggage to put them in the car, my friend and I looked at each other and although we knew it was going to be hard to adjust, we knew we were going to be just fine because we had each other.

25 COMMENTS

  1. It must have been so hard to leave home! What’s the story behind the story? Were you off on an exchange program?

    • Hi Flo! Thank you for your comment! I received a tennis scholarship to a university in the States for 4 years and thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was very hard to leave home but the decision came with a lot of new friendships, the world opened up, I learned a new language and a grew as a person a lot. So it was all worth it. It is so true that growing starts outside of our comfort zone 🙂

  2. I love this! Setting off on a new adventure can seem absolutely terrifying at first. Can’t wait to read more about your experience in the States.

    • Thank you John, yes it was so terrifying but at the end, looking back it was all worth it. The first step is the hardest and once the decision is made, everything is easier.

  3. Great story. I remember when I was leaving my house about 8 years ago as well. Its hard but the excitement for new adventure always win 🙂 I cant wait to read the rest of the story 🙂

  4. Being away from home can be so nervewrecking! But it sounds like you took it like a champ. Is this a permanent move?

    • Hi Ivy! It is very nerve-wracking sometimes but I would do it again, in a heartbeat. I came here for 4 years originally but then I met my now husband here so it became pretty permanent…but who knows what the future brings and where we will end up living.

  5. Great story and insight for what you were going through. I have friends that have thought similarly going to another place for a long period of time. There’s always a bit of that homesickness but a new place also brings new relationships and adventures and is worth it in the end. Good luck with your tennis scholarship!

    • Thank you Ling! It is very true. I met so many great people and experienced so much more. The world opened up and I believe it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

  6. I left home too when I was 17 to go to university and it was too difficult initially and I know how you must have felt. I am one of a twin and I don’t know what I would have done if she was not there with me back then. But it definitely made me more confident and independent. Change is a part of life.

    • Oh wow. 17 is so young! All my respect. It is great when someone is there for you or with you. I was very lucky to have my friend as well. I am not sure I would have had the courage to do this by myself. Change is part of life and that what makes it so beautiful.

  7. Wow! It is quite difficult leave home and for days you pine to go back. It is easier to handle this with a friend nearby . But eventually you live your life the way you want.

  8. I had a similar journey in my early twenties. Over the years I realized how lucky I am to have all these friends I found on the way. It’s a culture shock in a good way. I wish you the best for this journey!!

  9. It’s so good to read about our adventure my Friend!! It was very difficult at the beginning but look where we are now and all the things what we experienced over the years… I would totally do it again. I’m very thankful for your friendship and can’t wait to read more of your stories!!

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