Out of the comfort zone

Posted: 11.01.2017
Author: Aleksandra Olenkova

I have always been afraid of dogs. At the age of 3 I was bitten on the street while I was walking with my nanny. At the ages 11 and on my 13th birthday I was almost attacked again. My fear made cross the street every time I saw a dog, which ended up being a family joke; it also had an impact on my sister: my fear was infectious, especially given the 10-year difference.

Recently I had an issue with my accommodation. My previous contract was about to finish and my next one would start only in 14 days. As always I had left it to the last minute and had to find a room at a very short notice. The only good option I found was a nice room in a calm neighbourhood. The only problem was that the owner turned out to have two big dogs. I haven’t told anything to my parents and went on a journey of defeating my worst fears.

Having just arrived I was terrified by them. Days were passing by, I slowly got used to them greeting me in the morning and in the evening, sitting with them in one room, which at first seemed surreal, and watching them when they enter a ‘waiting mode’ while their owner was away.

The dogs

After a week, I went to a park for a walk with the dogs. It was a terrifying and wonderful experience, full of me being scared of ‘my’ dogs, others dogs, ‘my’ dogs being afraid of others dogs and others dogs being scared of ‘my’ dogs.

A couple of days before leaving I decided to tell my family about my little secret. My sister was shocked and had a hard time believing what I had done and then couldn’t get enough of me showing her how I am not afraid of touching the dogs. I thought that my parents needed some more preparation before I tell them.

– ‘Mum, I need to tell you something, just don’t be angry or worried,’ – ‘Is it a tattoo?’

– ‘Dad, I need to tell you something,’ – ‘Is it a boyfriend?’

Getting rid of this fear has never been a part of the equation of my decision to come here; nevertheless, it is yet another accomplishment that I owe to the UK. This experience has let me show my sister that people can fight their fears and become a better role model for her. In addition to that, now I know that my parents’ darkest fears and they are way more ridiculous than mine. I think we will have new family jokes from now on.

Sasha is currently studying Accounting and Finance BAEcon (Hons) at the University of Manchester. She took the NCUK IFY at BKC International House, Moscow, Russia.