Lost Girl of the Week: Leland Strott

Lost Girl of the Week — By on September 21, 2011 at 6:00 am

This week’s LG of the Week, Leland Strott, packed her bags after college graduation at Syracuse University and headed to England to study in a ground-breaking program. She found herself lost, not just physically, but emotionally, and learned that being lost not only means finding yourself away from home, but learning when it’s time to go back.

*****

Are you ever more lost than at the end your senior year of college? It’s a time of tough transitions, big questions, and denying reality because you never want to leave your friends and the good times and the university you’ve come to love.

The biggest looming question was “WHAT’S NEXT?” Even as I threw my graduation cap into the air, I felt like my future was as uncertain as the path my cap tumbled back to the ground. Weeks before, I had applied to a Master’s program in England to study social media. It was the first program of its kind, and I was motivated by the opportunity to study in a different country. I had passed on the chance to study abroad during my undergrad, so I felt that this was my one big chance to live in a foreign country and explore the world.

Three days after graduation, I got the email. Accepted to Birmingham City University for the master’s in social media. And then the second thoughts began. Was this really the right decision? Was it a good investment? The reason I passed on studying abroad during my undergrad program was because I thought I’d be too homesick for six months, but this time, I was determined to go and to make it work. Three months later, I was organizing my visa and attempting to pack my life into two suitcases. Never mind that the two bags were 120 pounds combined, I could zipper them shut so I considered packing a success.

Living and studying in England was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and nothing like I was expecting. For a master’s degree, I expected many hours of guided coursework and homework to keep me busy. In reality, I only had four hours of class a week, plus homework and whatever independent study I felt compelled to complete on my own. This left me with a few days per week to travel and explore. In a month, I went to Nottingham and Paris. I made friends with locals and other international students and shared my stories about life in America. I even made a fantastic American friend who helped me feel a little but closer to home. Unfortunately, all the free time still left me homesick.

I thought I had been lost after my graduation, when I didn’t have a solid plan for the future, but living 3,000 miles from my family was an incredibly difficult, lonely feeling to deal with. And so, four weeks into my program, I made the decision to return home. My faculty was incredibly flexible with my decision, and agreed to help me finish the degree from a distance through email tutoring and recorded lectures. I felt somewhat guilty for leaving, like I was quitting on the experience, but one of my lecturers assured me that my gut feeling was correct. In a goodbye letter, he wrote, “It was very brave of you to come to England, and also very brave to decide to go.” And so I packed my 120-pound bags and returned to the states.

A year ago, I was a lost girl in Birmingham. Even six months ago, I would still have claimed myself a hurricane, flying through life with fervor and uncertainty. But today, not by any accident, I am finally feeling more settled, less lost. I’m back in my hometown with a nine-to-five and a “usual” order at the bar, a great boyfriend and a fantastic group of friends. And now, with my life settling down, I’m finally feeling ready to explore the world again. I no longer feel lost where I am, so I can travel with confidence, ready to embrace the world — no expectations to find THE answers with each trip. I don’t need to go 3,000 miles to discover myself. I only have the desire to discover what the world has to offer.

Tags: , , , ,

    1 Comment