Calloused Hands Make it Easier to Hold On


Before leaving for my semester abroad, I remember being told in a pre-departure meeting that to grow, I would have to face challenges and learn from them. I resonated with the advisor’s advice, reflecting on my victory of garnering $10000 in scholarships to study abroad in London.

I had to be more than grateful for the challenges I faced with trying to meet deadlines and study for exams while still achieving the best grades I could, while actively participating in my extracurricular activities. Every scholar had to face these battles, but those of us who can say we studied abroad won our wars.

Every step of the way there were unaccounted for pins in my side, presenting themselves at the last minute to cause me to think differently. Whether it be the dilemma of being unable to get out Tier 4 visas due to international issues between the US and UK, receiving my scholarships last minute or not until I made it to London, not having a phone to make calls or as navigation, or even something as small as getting on the wrong bus or tube. Though in the moment, they may not have been great experiences, they taught me great lessons in patience and quick thinking.

These difficulties built up my endurance. Once I got used to everything not working out perfectly like I would have hoped it to (destroying those rose-tinted glasses that some students can have when they study abroad), I was able to respond better to each situation. We do not live in isolation, to survive in modern society we must interact with other people somehow.

Even if we tried our hardest to use technology to separate ourselves from human touch, any industry (food, technology, waste, electricity, the internet) will still have interactions with people. Each of us must do our best to be kinder, more honest, more considerate, more forgiving and especially more patient. The difficulties I have faced in London have taught me that.

My latest and most telling victory is when I forgot to bring my time sheet on the last day of my internship week. Every week to satisfy my visa and internship course credit, I must turn in a signed time sheet that verifies that I worked all my hours for that week like I legally agreed to.

Consequently, on Fridays my company works from another office… an office that is over an hour away from my dorm. But instead of moping and getting frustrated, I took it as an opportunity to see a new part of London. Though I should be more responsible in the future, I do not regret my chance to see the new office. It was an old factory building that was re-purposed for co-sharing office spaces. No words I could produce could actively describe it.

I ended up spending lunch with my coworkers and even volunteered some of my time to work on an assignment that was due that day. And would you know, I even got to watch a match from Wimbledon! Like the time where I needed to be back in central London approached, a wave of gratitude washed over me. Had I not forgotten my time sheet, I would not have been able to see an infamous mall in London, which was near the other office (once you took the shuttle back to the transport station.)

But of course, with me, it is rare to enjoy a good moment without a drop of misfortune. I had misplaced my Oyster card. I had only realized this as I reached in my pocket to go on the shuttle. Shocked, how could I AGAIN forget something of such great importance?

But, this isn’t the first time I had a time crunch and needed to find the misplaced object. So I put on my thinker’s hat and started retracing my steps. I asked workers and staff in the areas I had visited in my adventure to find the office space within the complex of professional athletic gyms and offices, a college, a workshop, restaurants and even more I didn’t see…. all while trying to avoid the eyes of my coworkers so that I wouldn’t have to embarrass myself further. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel, I was able to find my Oyster Card moments before the next shuttle arrived to take me back to the Mall.

At this mall, I would purchase my outfit to my favorite movie franchise of all time. Ever since I discovered this movie originated as a musical, I made it mandatory to see it for myself. And on the beautiful Friday evening, I had the privilege to watch Mamma Mia live.

And as usual, there is some kind of humbler that I experience when I have high moments. I had a seat in the top row of the center circle, where part of the background could not be seen because of the overhang and part of the stage could not be seen due to the positioning of the entire section. Being a college student on a budget, I was unable to get better seats. But, when you’re seeing the musical that inspired the movie that never fails to make you laugh and cry, does it really matter? I still had a great time and I thoroughly enjoyed the musical. I also made one of my best purchases in that theater.

And after my Oyster card mishap earlier that day and a past mishap where I accidentally took someone else’s Oyster card, I wanted an oyster card case that would distinguish mine from everyone else’s. It had to have flowers and be pretty and scream ‘Makayla.’ So of course when I saw that there was a Mamma Mia themed oyster card case with pretty pink flowers, I was enamored and bought it right away. Every time I see it, I smile.

That weekend I had the opportunity to visit Windsor Castle. Originally, I was going to visit Windsor on my mine but once others found out that I was going, they decided to tag along and I was happy to be going with a group. Though I do enjoy more architecture, a good old castle can always move my heart.

I find myself admiring the brilliance of the human craft and mind that people ages ago could produce such art that lasts hundreds of years later. Though the art of my crafts may not withstand the tests of time and human civilization like that of a castle, I hope to have such an empowering and inspiring impact around that lasts throughout their lifetime.