Things That Make Me Feel Normal Abroad

by shewastheyoungamerican

Making people laugh.

I don’t know about you, but making other people laugh – in that genuine, hearty, milk-out-of-nose, ugly snorting kind of way – is one of the highest highs in the world. And it’s what I do best. For a while in London, I wasn’t doing it as much. To toot my own horn (because I’ve stopped apologizing for those sorts of things), it’s generally what I do best. It’s what I did for many, many years. Then, when I moved over here, I was funny, but not in the way I was used to being. I didn’t know if it was because people didn’t get my sense of humo(u)r over here or if the departure from Terminal A, Gate Comfort Zone made me less self-assured. Above all, I’d gone from being the comedian in the room to the…oh, I can’t believe I’m saying it crying girl. Yes, I, Rachel Semigran so solemnly admits to being the girl she never ever wanted to be.

But! I’ve forgiven myself for that, realized it was a part of me that was always there. I just squashed it for so long with all the yuck-yucks and make-em-up-ins. Moreso, I now have “being the crying girl” material, not just “observing the crying girl material. Silver lining, people.

That being said, I’m improvising Yes! This above almost all things has made me feel the most at home. Improv is “mah thang” and not doing it was like cutting off my oxygen supply. Ask any musician friend what it would feel like to be stripped of their guitar for a month…they’d probably cry. Then write a song about it. Or put wire on a plastic tub and pluck pluck away. ANYTHING! OH GOD! ANYTHING! You get my point. I had the balls to audition for a broadway musical style improv show yesterday. I’ve never actually done an improvised musical before in my life. Okay, I wasn’t cast, but I went in there not knowing anyone in the room and committed the hell out of my audition. Afterwards I headed to the Wilmington Arms where I have the pleasure of rehearsing/performing WEEKLY with a lovely, welcoming group of very funny people. Oh, and I even got to host last night. Nice little boost o’confidence right there.

Of course I couldn’t make a post about improv without a huge, swelling burst of love for my team back in Philly, Mayor Karen. You guys are glorious.

Not talking about being over here.

I cannot explain how wonderful it is to just shoot the shit with my friends. I called my dear friend Becca last week and spent the majority of the conversation just gossiping and talking about failed romances. And you know what? It felt great. It felt great to not have to feel the need to justify my fears and trepidations of being over here. To not explain the complicated structure of my course and what exactly it is I’m doing. We. Just. Talked.

I spoke to Meredith on Friday about her upcoming wedding (that I’m totally honoured and jazzed to be a bridesmaid in) – and it was splendid. Centerpieces, shoes, DJ’s…I loved it all. Because it was normal. It was something real happening between me and one of my oldest best friends.

Hanging out with my coursemates and not talking about school.

It hit me on Friday after class. A group of us managed to all find our way into the same pub without planning. There was a moment during our conversation where I realized we hadn’t talked about our course in at least 45 minutes. And oh, what a glory it was …to just…see people because you want to see them, not because you are assigned to be in the same room at the same time with the same instructor. And for me, there are few things quite so wonderful as the solidarity between women. So as we shared our most recent battle scars in the realm of love and dating, everyone was genuinely interested and sympathetic. We made jokes, but we also said we were sorry for the hurt that happened, and meant it. It was nice to know the people I am working with are real, sincere, normal people.

Getting into my body.

It’s science, people! Your body releases endorphins when you work out. I’ve gotten my butt back to the gym and even if I indulge in a wine and cheese dinner, at least I don’t have to feel one tinge of regret about it. (Though if any of you know me, you know I would never really apologize for eating cheese. Ever.) I have also started taking clowning classes. Oh, oh how I have missed physical theatre. I trained with some really wonderful groups back in Philadelphia, namely New Paradise Laboratories, and I’ve missed doing that kind of work – the kind that forces you to connect the manic nature of your head to the calming, controlled nature of your body…connecting them and making something beautiful out of it. The art of clowning is pure joy, and my body is thanking me for it.


Seriously. It tastes the same over here! The portion sizes are the same! Something familiar! Chipotle trips were also a bit of a religious experience for my friends and I back in Philly. It’s grand to still have that over here. It’s. Just. So. Filling. I know it’s owned by McDonald’s/the Man, but damn it if those baby-sized burritos aren’t delicious and worth every cent of its over-priced value. And it’s only a few tube stops away. Yum.

One last thing.

Dear people of the Interwebs,

It’s really, really hard to start over in a city across an ocean from everything you know. Yes, it’s exciting. Yes, I am meeting new people. Yes, I am learning a lot. But please, stop expecting me to just treat this experience like Spring Break. It’s not. It’s a massive endeavour I’ve embarked on and I should be allowed to be scared, or even sad at times. Or god forbid, still carry a broken heart. I know it’s hard to believe that living in London isn’t a 24/7 make-out fest with wacky Europeans. But if one more person tells me, “just live it up!” I might scream.

I know everyone only has the best of intentions and only wants me to get everything I can out of this experience. Please know I am learning so much about myself. I am challenging myself. And my relationships at home are still of the utmost importance. I miss everyone. I miss your hugs. I miss your couches and lazy Sunday TV watching. I miss having brunch with you. I miss just calling you for a quick 5 minute chat. I miss being able to take the subway and see you in 20 minutes if you really needed me to. I miss you, I really do.

I will see you so soon.