Moving Forward

Submitted by Montana Joyce
on 03/10/18

Moving. That one word is packed with many emotions and images for anyone who has experienced a move themselves. It can be overwhelming and scary, but is also full of promise. The what-ifs and the maybes crowd the mind, and one cannot help but dream of all the possibilities that await them at their new home. At the same time, it is difficult not to cringe back from the decision to uproot your life and leave the friends and home that you already possess. The decision to leave is not the only choice that needs to be made, and is quickly followed by a long list of follow up questions. What should be done with the things that must be left? What really needs to move? How often can visits back to friends or family be made? And the list goes on. The biggest changes are not in the setting or location, but emotional ones.

When I experienced my first move it was from my childhood home into an apartment close to my college campus. It was difficult to pack up boxes of my things, and more difficult to unpack them away from everything and everyone I knew. It wasn’t all that far from my old home, but at first it felt to me as far as the moon from Earth. When the bags and boxes were unpacked and the bed was set up, all that was left was for me to adjust to my new home and surroundings. I believe that the reason moves are so hard is because everything changes. Your friends, home, school or job, even the smells that greet you when you open your window.

The preparation for this move had taken weeks, and yet when I arrived I still had left some necessities. In reality, leaving things behind is a massive part of moving. These things are not toiletries or shoes, but the memories, people and opportunities behind you. In every choice that a person makes, they are taking chances. They are giving things up that they might never get again. That being said, you can’t have everything. One thing that moving has taught me is that in life, the only thing that can be done is to choose the path that feels best. This takes bravery, and it takes risk. If you’re willing to risk, then it’s a very real possibility that you can win big. It is a difficult thing to adjust to all these changes, but for the brave there are opportunities in every change. With new roommates there are new friends, and with new schools there are new academic challenges and rewards.

Though this was the first move, it was not even close to the last. After a year living in my new apartment, I decided that it would be best if I moved again, but this time not so close. The small move from home had given me the courage to once again pack up my bags and move. However, this move was not just a few cities away from my childhood home. This move took me to the other side of the world, to live in the city of Changzhou in China. At that point in my life I was prepared to jump into life with the knowledge that a previous move had given me. I faced my new environment, culture and peers with an enthusiasm and confidence that came from previous experiences.

There were so many adjustments to be made living in another country! The language barrier made things difficult, and even with immersion the language took dedication and perseverance to pick up on. My job teaching English was difficult too, as the approach that the teachers took at the school was very different than the teaching methods I was familiar with. Simple illnesses became an ordeal when trying to find medicine, and many products were not at all what I was accustomed to. Despite these difficulties, the move was the best decision of my life. I fell in love with the places I saw and the people I met. Everything was interesting to me, and I loved many of the foods I tried. I was enchanted by the children, and quickly fell into my life new life. It didn’t replace my old home, but it earned a special new place in my heart. That’s the thing about moves: they always help us grow.

If anything, the move back to the United States was harder. When I had left for China, I knew I was coming back. Leaving China was different, as I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to set foot in my apartment again, hug my students, or share a plate of noodles with my friends at our favorite shop. I had acquired things that could never be replaced, but couldn’t be taken with me either. However, there is one thing that no one can ever take away, and that is the memories. It is hard to leave things behind, hard to restart your life, and hard to adjust or readjust to an environment. Missing people or places is the worst, but it at least we experienced them enough to have the opportunity to miss them.

When one arrives in their new home the anxiety might not leave immediately, but one day soon they will find themselves wanting to go home, and the picture in their head is the new home, not the old one. In this moment, everything becomes worth it. Whether the move is to somewhere close or the other side of the world, if one goes into it with a sour attitude expecting to hate it, they likely will. On the other hand, if one goes into the move full of hopes and dreams, ready to fall in love with the new things and people around them, they will also likely get what they are expecting. Much of moving comes down to attitude. In every move things are left behind, but if you throw yourself into the new life you have acquired, you will gain more than you have lost.

Submitted by Montana Joyce
on 03/10/18

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