You Never Know What the Future Holds

Flashback to ten years ago. I was living back home in England and had just completed my final GCSEs. In case you are wondering, GCSE’s are a high school student’s final single-subject exams that test you on five to ten subjects that you have been studying over the past two years. Simply put, I was 16 years old and had just graduated from high school.

However, unlike most graduates, I did not have time to celebrate and wonder about what would come next. Instead, my parents dictated my future.

After months of discussion, it was finally decided that I would relocate from my home, a small town in Rawmarsh, England with a population of roughly 15,000, to California, a state with just over 39 million people.

To my peers it seemed exciting. Moving from a low-income area in miserable old England to the palm trees and stardom of Los Angeles, California. It appeared to be an opportunity of a lifetime. But they couldn’t see what I was leaving behind.

I’d had the same group of friends for over a decade. I knew everywhere and everyone in my cocoon of an environment. I would be leaving all of this and venturing into the unknown. Making things that much harder, I was told my parents had decided to separate and that it would only be me and my father making the move.

College seemed like a logical next step as I had just graduated. Instead I was told I would be returning to high school for an additional two years. Fun.

I was always in the top sets of my classes back in England and would be described as what many people consider “bright.” However, within the first week I soon found that the level of education in South Pasadena was a lot better than what Rawmarsh had offered. I found myself sitting at help desks and needing extra attention, something I was unfamiliar with. Even simple things like spelling had to be relearned as American English differed from my earlier teachings. After lots of hard work, I became an above average student, graduating for the second time in two years. This only led to more problems.  

Neither of my parents or siblings attended college, though it was expected that I would. I knew nothing about how the American college system worked. I spoke to a counselor at the local community college who gave me an overview of the next steps, but I was forced to conduct a lot of research on my own just to understand the basics. After looking online at all the different majors that colleges offer and what they entail, I decided on communications.

I took the classes I needed to receive my Associate’s degree and then transferred to California State University Los Angeles where I went on to graduate with honors, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication and Public Relations.

Although my parents were the ones who really wanted me to attend college, they provided no financial help. Throughout my time in school, I worked full-time and in some periods even held two additional part-time jobs. I was determined to graduate debt free and, although it was hard, I am proud to say that I accomplished that goal.

Even though I was resentful about moving, I realize looking back that it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I have made many new friends and assimilated into a new culture. The education I received exposed me to so many different concepts and ideas, making me into a more well-rounded individual.

My biggest takeaway from the past ten years of my life is don’t be afraid of change. Although we may end up in situations that are unfamiliar and unwanted, change is often for the best.