A Shift in Hobbies and Identity

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One of my highlights from this week was visiting Hatchards bookshop in Piccadilly. The shop has been operating since 1797. Many websites and blogs rave about how fantastic it is, so I had to go. It exceeded my expectations. It was four stories high and I ended up leaving with a couple of new books. One was a memoir, and the other was a book about the history of Amsterdam. I’m already halfway through the Amsterdam one, and I anticipate I will return to Hatchards a couple more times before I leave at the end of April.

Lately I have been thinking about what my hobbies are, and the ways in which they are shifting. I have been asking myself what a hobby even is. What does it mean, and more importantly, what does it mean to me? The dictionary defines a hobby as “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” My mom defined hobbies as fun things that come and go throughout your life.

So far, I have had the same basic hobbies. Making art, playing video games, and bits of cooking and yoga here and there. However, in the past year or so I have noticed a shift. I don’t seem to care for art anymore. I do care for books. In 2021 I read twelve books, and so far in 2022 I have read three. To put it in perspective, I don’t think I have read a single book (without being forced to by school) between 6th and 12th grade. I don’t have much of an explanation for this sudden interest. I enjoy reading non-fiction books revolving around topics such as psychology and world history.

Another new hobby is travel. This is more obvious, and it makes sense I wouldn’t have considered it a hobby until recently. I simply didn’t have the opportunity or independence to travel when I was a kid. Now that the pandemic is simmering down, I have been able to live in the UK and visit Spain, Denmark, and Sweden. In April I will be visiting the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy. In May I will be flying to South Korea and staying until mid-June. I really enjoy visiting museums and learning about different places.

Studying abroad has caused me to reflect on basically everything I thought I knew. Defining my hobbies has become the latest puzzle for my brain. My thought is that in the past, my hobbies were all skill-centered (games, physical movement, creating) and now they are shifting to revolve around gaining knowledge and experience (traveling, reading, watching documentaries). Many aspects of my life and identity are shifting, and it is exciting to me! I am very grateful that study abroad is having an impact on this process.

Images: A view looking down Piccadilly on the way to Hatchards, Kings Cross Station