I’ve lived here in Cambridge for exactly 8 days (edit: 16 now) and I still ride the “I’m abroad!” honeymoon high. I say this to others often, but I’m a big nerd and I love school environments. I feed off of shared enthusiasms for learning and intellectual thought, which is very, very, abundant here, so I am almost always enthralled.
Something that I ask people when I get to know them is what they wish to get out of their time here at Cambridge. I ask this because I genuinely wish to understand their goals, so when it was first asked back to me, it took me a moment to think about my answer. This isn’t a main goal, more of a “parallel personal goal,” but I hope to gain more confidence defending my ideas. Even when challenged. I have plenty of practice vocalizing my opinions, but I’m realizing that I mostly tended to be in rooms of like-minded people. There was a moment on campus, last Monday, where I explained my motivations for choosing gender studies. The person I was talking to made a counter point. Instead of continuing the conversation naturally, I felt stunted and struggled to not only gather my own thoughts, but to actually hear what they were saying as well. I assumed that this happened because of my self confidence, so one of my goals this year is to gain the vocabulary and the self-assurance to express my thoughts even when opposed.
Also, I hope to develop meaningful relationships with others. I meet so, so, so many people, and instead of starting with small talk and staying there, I intentionally lead up to personal questions. I think it works well, because I focus less on the social aspects of fitting in or being included, but instead on the people themselves.
I am thankful for being here, and I get emotional when I think about how much work it has taken to reach this point. I am very lucky that the stars aligned and that I had a wonderful university to send me here. If I am already baffled when thinking about my current journey up to this point, I have no concept of how I will feel when I graduate this year.
Edits: I am reviewing this post a week later, and the “I’m abroad!” honeymoon has faded. Classes are hard, the reading never ends, and my classmates challenge me in a good way. However, I created a plan, I still take fun breaks, I just need to put on my “Megan serious pants” now. This is still an great experience. 🙂