• AKO

Leave Your Hometown

Updated: Apr 6

As I'm studying abroad for the second time it got me thinking about how so many people don't leave their hometowns. I've lived in one place my whole life, St. Louis, but getting out and living in a different country for 5 months twice truly changed my perspective on things.

I've met so many wonderful people so far while studying abroad and it's mind-blowing how they all have lived in 2-3 places and some people moved every 4-5 years of their life. To me, a person who's lived in one city for 20 years, I couldn't believe it. My good friends here have these crazy backgrounds like being born in Thailand living there then California then back to Thailand then St. Louis then Geneva and now Leiden. LIKE WHAT?


And this got me thinking on how important it is to leave your hometown. Don't get me wrong, St. Louis will always be my home but there comes a time when you have to venture out.


When I first left


I remember when I first studied abroad and I've never felt more free. I saw unreal architecture, churches, museums, paintings, statues, all ranging from new to a 1,000 years old. I stepped off the plane and thought, "holy shit, there's a whole world out there," and THAT is what people forget. We get so into our own bubble and our own world, doing the same thing again and again when you live in one place your whole life. And I truly believe that's why a big chunk of us are then depressed or feel hopeless or have no goals because we can't see past what we've always seen. We only know the same mall or Starbucks we go to each week with our friends, know the same people and go out to the same places time and time again.


It becomes suffocating. As days ticked down from my first study abroad in Vienna, I made a promise to myself that when I get home, I wouldn't let myself get sucked into this trance that "St. Louis is the only thing and I'll never get out," because that's what it can feel like. It can feel like there's nothing more out there but there's a whole freaking world that hasn't been touched. There's millions of souls and great personalities to meet and who knows, maybe you'll meet the one.


Well, when I got back I got sucked into the trance. I couldn't get myself to see past a life without me doing the same shit and then I thought, hell no. I have all the power within myself to go where ever I want to. Once you get that in your head, you're unstoppable.


I needed to study abroad again and boom, I'm back here in Europe. But I can tell you, just the thought of leaving St. Louis again was hard. When I'm there I feel like I can't leave, like there's a magical wall surrounding the city and the closer you get to leaving, the more the wall crushes you in.


Have you ever went on a vacation for a week and you have the time of your life? You think, what an amazing city, look at all these cool new things, I met these awesome people. A slight thought crosses your mind like "I would love to live here," and you just push it back and go back to your home and try not to think about it again. I'm guilty of this as well but why do we do this? I'm old enough, I'm about to graduate college and if I wanted to, I could make that place home. But what keeps us back?


St. Louis will always be home


Don't get me wrong, St. Louis will always be home and living in one place isn't always the worst thing. I have a good chunk of my family there and friends who turned into my family because we grew up together. But it does become suffocating and really hard to leave if you don't realize you can. The routine life and place becomes toxic.


People constantly say they feel like there's nothing to life. They have no excitement, no changes, no goals, no new faces, no new places, and get sucked into a bad path of drugs, violence, and mental illness. There is so much out there; I can't stress that enough. You have the colosseum in Rome, the churches in Vienna, the little villages in Ireland, the cozy towns of the Netherlands, the crazy clubs in Berlin, the beautiful art work in Florence, the list goes on and on. And all of this is right behind that wall of fear or the magical wall surrounding your hometown not letting you leave.


So I'm here to say, LEAVE. There is so much more out there in the world besides the city or town you grew up in. There is so much just waiting for you to take a leap of faith and do it. Whether that's studying abroad, or going away for college, or taking an internship in a different state, or just even saying fuck it and moving across the country or the world. And yes, all of this is easier said than done but that's the point. Nothing good comes easy and if you truly want it, nothing can stop you. And remember, your home will always be waiting for you when you come back.


Love, AKO

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