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Get out of your comfort zone abroad

| Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I never thought I would be the type of person to write about my experiences abroad.

Yet here I am, about to tell you all about some of my experiences in London, Paris and Berlin this summer.

A lot of study abroad blogs talk about food, but the food in London was pretty lame. Fish and chips is good for a meal once in a while, but not on a regular basis. And the British put mayonnaise on everything for some reason. Weird.

So no, I won’t talk about the food or the weather or the pubs or the different accent or the different money.

I don’t want to talk about those things because the biggest thing I took away from my experience abroad is that I appreciate home much, much more.

Everything seems right about my home here in America. I know everyone and where everything is. I know what to do and when to do it, and that was something I couldn’t say about London. Yet at the same time, those were the things I loved about London. It was unpredictable, I didn’t have a routine, I didn’t know what to expect, even after six weeks. Plus right when I left, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union so clearly, change was a big theme last summer.

That shouldn’t make sense. I love home because it’s predictable, yet I loved London because it was unpredictable. It may seem odd, but it’s true. Walking back from a pub in pouring rain is never something I would do in Mishawaka, Indiana, but I wouldn’t trade that memory, or a number of similar such ones, for the world.

What this means, to me at least, and it may sound like a cliche, but my time in London taught me that it’s good to get outside your comfort zone. If you’re a freshman — sorry, first-year — you’ve heard that a billion times by now, but it’s true, just not in the way you think.

If you get out of your comfort zone — go to London, sign up for a bunch of clubs on activities night, whatever it is — doing that thing doesn’t magically make you a better person. It can, but the real reason getting out of your comfort zone is a positive thing is that it makes you enjoy your comfort zone that much more when you get back in. For me, being in Europe for six weeks let me appreciate my home that much more, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Our comfort zones are comfort zones for a reason — we enjoy doing those things with those people. So the goal when branching out shouldn’t be to leave our comfort zones, but to appreciate our comfort zones more when we come back to them. London was great, but I would never want to live there permanently, just as if you were shy, you would never want public speaking to become your career.

So get out of your comfort zone, but don’t forget to enjoy your comfort zone as well.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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