Leaving my comfort zone

London Met student Hailey talks about leaving the comfort zone of her native Kansas City to live and study architecture in London.

Date: 29 January 2021

I was comfortable before I moved to London to study architecture at London Metropolitan University. I had a full-time career, a nice car, an apartment in the city, and the ability to save any extra money I didn’t spend on bills. My family lived nearby and I spent free time with my friends during the weekends. Life was pleasant and predictable, but at the end of each day I had a feeling that something else was missing. You see, I believe that being too comfortable can be the bane of our existence as intellectual and spiritual beings. I don’t particularly enjoy the predictability of routine, no matter how grateful I am for stability. Perhaps the most terrific routines in life are out of our control, like the rising and setting of the sun each day, or the seasons that come and go whilst granting us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves time and time again.

I moved around frequently in the years following high school, attending college in Omaha, Nebraska, spontaneously moving to beautiful Clearwater, Florida, and ultimately heading back home to Kansas City. I wanted to go back to university to complete my bachelors in fine art, but due to my achieved stability in Kansas City I had yet to take that leap. It wasn’t until the middle of summer in 2018, shortly after turning 24 years old, that I decided to make a change. My mental health had been suffering. I was irritable and anxious with the feeling of regret for something I had not even done. That was exactly it! I could not spend the most adaptable years of my life feeling stuck in a comfortable, yet unchanging cycle. My mind was begging for a new challenge, a life-changing adventure and foreign culture.

I explored my educational options in cities like New York, London and Copenhagen. I chose to further research London mostly because of an intuitive feeling. My mother has always embedded in my head the importance of following my heart. I had been to London a few times before and thought there will not be such a well-equipped place to begin my studies in architecture. The London Wall, built by the Romans, dates back to the year 200 AD, and today you can stand up next to it whilst surrounded by the Brutalist, post World War II Barbican Centre. In between, hundreds of years of art and architecture movements flourished, creating the city that is London today. I can’t completely envelop this feeling for you, it is something you have to experience, but I recommend it to anyone who has these interests.

Upon touring London Metropolitan University’s School of Art, Architecture and Design, Aldgate campus in East London, I was amazed by its centrality. It’s a busy, exciting area filled with culture, commerce and art. On my tour, the halls of the campus felt oddly familiar, and paired with the incredible studio spaces, technical workshops and inviting attitude from the staff toward international students, I made the decision to apply. We all know that applying to university is not the easiest process. Though it was stressful, I surprisingly found the process much simpler when compared with the application process for American Universities! All of that stress was replaced by excitement once I received my unconditional offer. Tears of joy and nervousness bonded themselves to an overwhelming feeling of, “Wait, am I actually doing this?”, followed by the preparation, the packing, and an early morning flight that set my journey into motion. Once the plane lifted off from Kansas City International Airport, I was undoubtedly a sobbing mess. Then I put my headphones in and listened to my favorite song, ate the airline food, watched a few movies and then the lush, green fields surrounding Heathrow International Airport approached me. It all really is quite transformative, and there’s nothing like a 10-hour flight to calm your nerves. The winds of change have brought me here, and I am ready.

As I write this, I am well into my second year at London Metropolitan University and have lived in London for a year and a half. I’m more content than I ever remember being and my comfort zone has expanded to the point where I truly believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. London is my home, but more importantly, London Metropolitan University is my University, and I feel so lucky to be here with my fellow students and teachers. It wasn’t luck that got me here, though, it was the desire to make a change in my life. If something is calling you toward it, pay attention, don’t be afraid to act. Who knows where you could be in one year’s time.

Student ambassador, Hailey, in a European city

"On my tour, the halls of the campus felt oddly familiar, and paired with the incredible studio spaces, technical workshops and inviting attitude from the staff toward international students, I made the decision to apply."

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