Sitting on my nine-hour flight from London back to the states, my brain is riled with so, so, so many emotions. So much has changed since my first week at my study abroad program. I just completed my study abroad program at Kingston University in London, and I’m heading home to go back to college in the states in a few weeks. Study abroad changed my perspective and opened my eyes to new experiences, food, and, of course, friends. These experiences are something that I wouldn’t give up or change for anything, which is why returning home is such a bittersweet moment for me.
I’m incredibly thankful that I got to have this experience. I am so fortunate to have been able to experience a new culture for seven whole weeks. Seven weeks filled with touring some of the greatest museums, and galleries in the entire world. Seven weeks of exploring the history of the UK. Seven weeks of discovering an entirely new culture. It only took seven weeks for me to find my second home in London.
I got to watch the English soccer team come this close to winning the World Cup. I was swept away by the passionate fans shouting in the street after the English team scored a winning goal. I got to see the influence of the ancient Romans on present-day society in Bath. I saw a one of a kind exhibit on Frida Kahlo at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I drank an incredible amount of tea at countless cafes. I met some incredible people through living at the dorms. I sat on too many trains terminating at Waterloo. I walked so many miles (approximately three hundred and twenty miles in total). I saw a live performance of a Shakespearean play at the Globe.
I’m amazed that I got to do all of these incredible, once in a lifetime things. I can’t believe that I navigated my own way through a foreign country and that I very rarely got lost or had a problem that I couldn’t solve by myself. I feel so proud of myself for taking care of myself for the entirety of the time I was abroad. Sure, I take care of myself at college but doing it in an unfamiliar country is a totally different ballgame. Shopping at a grocery store for the first time was an unfamiliar experience. So was doing laundry, and getting to class. But I did it! I made it through, and I feel like that’s something to be proud of. It is truly incredible how you learn what you’re capable of doing while studying in a foreign country.
Now, on my way back, realizing my time in study abroad is over I feel incredibly sad. I’m upset that I’m leaving a country that has truly been nothing but wonderful to me this past summer. Everyone that I met in London was open to sharing their stories with me and giving me their favorite tips on things to do and see. I’m going to miss menial things: rushing down the stairs at a Tube station to catch a train, walking around the block from the dorms to a great Indian restaurant, and walking along the Thames to class. I’m also going to miss living in one of the largest cities in the world. I’ll always remember walking around Soho at night once all of the shows were over. The streets were filled with so many people, from all walks of life. The hazy night sky seemed alive with the glowing show signs. Everyone seemed thoroughly overjoyed to be alive and living in London at that exact moment, and I just know that I’m never going to be able to forget the way I felt right then.
But most of all, I’m going to miss the friends that I’ve made. Being the introverted person I am, I never anticipated making friends in the short time that we would be abroad together. However, making friends was easier than anticipated. Groups of us all wanted to do the same things (see the tourist sites and buy groceries at first). So it was easy to find someone to do something with––no matter what it was.
Somehow, we all just got along. We swapped stories from home, made instant inside jokes, and that was that. Instant friends. Some of us were so eerily similar to one another, while others we were so vastly different in numerous ways. I feel like we all truly poured our hearts into one another so quickly, which is why leaving them was so hard.