When Going Away Brings You Home
As a part of the IFSA-Butler program, I spent this weekend at a homestay in Maulds Meaburn, a small village outside of Penrith, England. Anne and Charlotte, my host mother and sister, graciously welcomed me into their home. I ate the best food since arriving in the United Kingdom, including homemade Moussaka and a roast chicken dinner complete with Yorkshire pudding. On Saturday, Anne and Charlotte took Sophie (my fellow classmate) and I into the Lake District, where we hiked a small mountain. From there, we wandered into Keswick to look at the markets, have lunch, and walk alongside the lake. Anne’s two dogs, Isla and Daisy Lou, accompanied us during the day and provided company and entertainment. I very much enjoyed walking and playing with them for a whole weekend, as it had been a long time since I spent time with animals. On Sunday, Anne and Charlotte gave us a short walkthrough of the village amidst impending rain. Maulds Meaburn epitomizes a traditional English village, with old buildings, small streams, and abounding character. After the walk, we visited Kennedy’s Chocolate Factory, where I purchased locally revered chocolate that lived up to expectations.
The area surrounding Maulds Meaburn, is agricultural land filled with sheep, cows, horses and other livestock. The fields were framed by cobblestone fences with rolling hills on the horizon. While driving through these areas, I admired the beauty surrounding me but was also drawn back to my home in Northern New York. I realized that perhaps I take for granted the area where I grew up. I fondly remember driving to dance practice on backroads with my mom, taking my brothers to our cider mill, and spending time with my family in the Adirondacks. When looking at the lake district, I could not stop thinking about spending time on Lake Ontario watching sunsets and drinking wine with friends back home.
Oftentimes, we must go away and admire beauty elsewhere to be reminded of the beauty that has been right in front of us. This weekend provided a step back from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. It was a time to reflect on my time abroad, but also a time to reflect on home and the friends and family in Watertown and at Colgate. A homestay is mandatory for my program and for that I am so glad. Cultural immersion is important because it provides perspective and garners empathy for those who live differently than ourselves. More importantly I would argue, time out of our immediate comfort zones also shows us how similar we are to others and how we generally share more things than we differ on. I feel connected to my host mom because as she was sharing her life with me, I continually linked her experiences and relationships to mine. I am so grateful for this weekend and the hospitality of my host family; it was a meaningful and relaxing weekend.