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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Column: Exploring the inner wanderlust

A lot can change in a year.

That’s what a friend recently said to me. The moment she said those words, I couldn’t help but laugh a little – they sounded so dramatic and cliché to me. I imagined a season finale for “One Tree Hill” ending with some monologue and that sentence smacked right at the end of it.

We were talking about roommates, her transferring to another school and my anticipated studying abroad in England next spring. As the conversation progressed, I was finally able to get Chad Michael Murray’s face out of my mind and listen to what she meant.

She told me about how transferring to a new school would be a fresh start for her. You could do all the things you didn’t do (but should have done) the first time around. The words “fresh” and “new” ended up being splattered across our conversation.

Escapism seems to be the answer to all this longing for a new beginning. The college years are the first glimpses at a REAL longing for escape. That’s why there’s the weekend Vegas trips documented through embarrassing photos on Facebook, the “traditional” American college spring breaks that make Europeans frown upon us and the pervasive college studying abroad.

Rooted in all these instances is a thrill for change, because change is the new and fresh thing we’re looking for – or that we’re expected to be in search of at this early point in life.

When someone asks you why you’re transferring or studying abroad, it’s sometimes hard to say the truthful, blunt answers: “I hate smelly Davis” and “British accents are hot.” The issue of change inevitably gets involved, and we end up articulating our responses in a more “proper manner.” (British phrases are already getting to me.)

We say things like, “I’m looking for personal growth and the only thing that will provide it is leaving this small town.” Somewhere amidst searching for your transfer dorm room or London’s national monuments you’ll do this “soul-searching.”

But as the year winds down, there isn’t a more perfect moment for change – for that “new beginning” we’re all in search of, whether we realize it or not. Summer provides us with that time to just let loose, which I’m realizing is not that easy to do during the school year. It also gives us the moments we need for reflection.

In the span of a school year, not many people are lucky enough to gain these moments of reflection, to take a moment before getting too caught up in the change. After all, most of us barely even get a moment in the morning to reflect through a mirror.

So really, a lot can change in a summer. A lot can change at another school. A lot can change abroad.

A lot can change in a year.

TIFFANY LEW thanks the readers who followed her throughout the year and sent their thoughts her way. By now, you know to e-mail her at tjlew@ucdavis.edu.

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