“You should stay for the year, man. You can’t just come here and leave.”

It was a thought that had been festering in the back of my mind for weeks now. However, it wasn’t until it was expressed out loud that the gears in my brain started moving.

Could I really do it? Could I just say “eff it” and stay here? Did I really need to go back to Isla Vista? It was only a year ago that a denied transfer application extension kept me from leaving our little slum of “paradise.” What is stopping me from making the leap?

Don’t get me wrong, I.V. is great. I’m not really sure there is another campus in the world that can replicate the bubble of seclusion and charm that our one square mile of duplexes provides. However, since the day I graduated from high school, there has been a growing sense of restlessness that I can only attribute to my inner need to be doing something substantial with all the time I am allocated on this earth. While I appreciate the perks of studying in such an environment (our school is on a goddamn beach with skies that provide their own Instagram filters), I can’t help but feel my life has stagnated due to the bubble in which I.V. resides. There are only so many Sands Beach sunsets and die tossings before the shine begins to lose its luster. I may not have verbally expressed this, but as I left UCSB, part of me was hoping that I wouldn’t come back to campus.

Natalia Spritzer / Daily Nexus

A change of pace was needed, and I jumped at the chance to move to London: a city that is much larger and much more diverse than where I had resided for the past two years. And I love it. It’s loud. There is no time to pause and take a breath. People in suits, tracksuits and puffy jackets bustle in and out of every little corner imaginable. Sarcasm oozes from many of its inhabitants. For the first time, I don’t feel like a wandering entity unable to find something worth latching onto. I feel as if I am a functioning cog in a machine much bigger than I can comprehend. It might sound contradictory with my need for importance, but I enjoy the anonymity that comes with living in a city with more than eight million people. I can write my own story without the shackles of familiarity combined with preconceived notions of myself and life itself.

And write my own story I have, as I have dived into things I have been too scared to dive into before, participated in things I can’t participate in back home and explored places I only dreamed of exploring. I can safely say there is no place on earth I’d rather be in this current moment. I can’t imagine anyone becoming disenchanted with this place.

But there are exceptions.

“Why on earth would you leave California for here?”

“The weather alone is going to leave you clinically depressed by mid-November.”

“It’s great and all, I get it, but this place is exhausting.”

Just as I had become disillusioned with the vibrant sunshine and peaceful bike rides back home, these people I encountered had experienced the same fatigue with their environment as I had, despite the vast difference in lifestyles the two settings provide. They, too, were unsettled.

Once I thought about it, it made sense. Despite my own beliefs in my societal integration, I am still a foreigner purposely seeking out the good in an environment I am excited to be present in. The cons of annoyances have not settled in due to the fact that it is very new to me and that “very new” is exactly what I’m seeking. What was my boredom back home was someone else’s rare chance to simmer down and calm their busy brain. I had complete access to a world they don’t usually experience, and they couldn’t process why I would leave it. Their home was to me what mine was to them. We shared the exact same feelings. Who’s to say the same wouldn’t happen to me if I stayed here?

“The grass is always greener on the other side” is an overused and cliche saying, but it rings true.

Will I ever be able to look around and say I truly feel content if I am always yearning for the next adventure or the next experience?

Is this desire to grow up fast while still working out the kinks of immaturity a healthy combination? What’s to tell me these times at UCSB aren’t the “good old days” that I’ll remember fondly in 15 years? Am I moving too fast while wanting to go even faster?

Will I ever be able to look around and say I truly feel content if I am always yearning for the next adventure or the next experience?

Reflecting on this, I couldn’t help being drawn to a particular thought. Everytime I come home to my hometown, exiting the 280 freeway, this wave of calmness and comfort washes over me. As I weave through the hills and watch the sunlight trickle through familiar trees and neighborhoods, I can’t help but think fondly back to the memories and feelings I associate with the place. It may be a fleeting feeling before my desire to leave eventually takes over, but the comfort my hometown provides is always there.

I’m only 20 years young, and I am not sure if I’m ready to fully leave that comfort behind. I’m close. But not just yet. The world is a large place, and I intend to inhabit as much of it as possible. My London experience in itself has been more than I could have ever asked for. But these places are not going anywhere; I’ve got a little bit of time. I’ve got a life back home I still need to take care of. A crisp and sudden break is not a fitting end for my first two years of college. For the first time in my life, I should attempt to actively enjoy slowing down. Maybe it’s OK to “gather my rosebuds while I may” for a little bit longer.

In January 2019, I will be back in Isla Vista. There is no guarantee I won’t fall right back into the funk of a routine I had become accustomed to. But with the potential experiences and future I now know lie ahead of me, I trust myself to acknowledge the bigger picture that life has painted for me. This is one chapter of a longer story. With that in mind, I think I’ll be OK enjoying the ride and sitting back while watching that damn beautiful Sands Beach sunset for the next 18 months. After all, I do want to graduate on time.  

Kian Karamdashti is learning that a little familiarity is okay.

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