It’s 5 AM and I’m sitting in my way-too-empty room, exhausted from packing the two comically overstuffed suitcases that sit next to the door. I’m leaving in an hour and a half to head to Heathrow with my friend Zoe, and I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it to go to sleep for an hour. I can’t believe that my study abroad experience is actually ending. The past three months seem to have flown by, but when I think of myself arriving here in September, I’m amazed at how different I feel now. I’ve seen more, traveled more, learned more, and made incredible friends along the way. There’s a great quote in the book Reading Lolita in Tehran, where the author (Azar Nafisi) highlights travel’s transformative power: “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” Travel has the power to change you. I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to live in London this past semester, and I’m glad that I got to experience new things and grow as a person, no matter how cheesy that sounds. I’m graduating this spring, and I’m not quite sure what I want to do with my life, but I’m positive that it will involve seeing as much of the world as I can. Before I came to London, I was excited at the idea of living for three whole months in a different country, as opposed to a short vacation. Although I think I got to know London pretty well in those three months, I’ve mostly been overwhelmed at how much of the world there is to see, how much culture and life and art and fun and beauty is out there, waiting.
I absolutely love London, and I’m sad to leave such an incredible city. To me, it just feels like the place to be. The culture, architecture, and history are inspiring. The nightlife is varied and exciting. British humor is hilarious. The beer is delicious. Like New York, you feel like you’re in the center of everything, but like Boston, you can appreciate the history and the feel of different neighborhoods surrounding you. Public transit is clean, polite, and easy to navigate. The museums are free. It’s impossible to walk anywhere without seeing one of those blue plaques on an old house, indicating someone famous or important lived there. The shopping is fantastic. English classes just sound more authentic when they’re taught by professors speaking with British accents. I’ll miss being offered tea all the time. I’ll miss Thursday nights at the rowdy local pub, drinking cheap pints and singing along to the mix of classic and indie rock with my friends. I’ll miss a million other things that I can’t think of now, but I’m sure I’ll realize when I get home. (I expect to walk through the supermarket asking “Where do they keep the digestive biscuits?”) If you’re wondering if I would ever want to move here permanently, the answer is yes. Absolutely. I would need a job or a grad school program or some other purpose, but I would do it in a heartbeat.
Of course, as much as I love it here, it will be fabulous to be home. I can’t wait to see my family in person and not on Skype. I can’t wait to snuggle on the couch with my dog while catching up on the Daily Show and Glee on a flat screen HD tv. I’m excited to eat a delicious home-cooked meal for the first time in months. (My mom is making a turkey dinner to celebrate my arrival—I can’t wait!) I’m excited to see my friends, drive my car, and not immediately be seen as an outsider because of my American accent. I’m excited to go back to Boston and enjoy the last semester of my senior year. I’m excited for good Mexican food, as well as for real, delicious salads. And my bank account will be relieved to discover it’s not paying for life in one of the world’s most expensive cities anymore. Huzzah!
Alright, it’s just about 6 AM. (Another thing that’ll be weird about going home—getting used to the 12 hour clock.) I think I’m going to close my eyes for half an hour and then EMBARK UPON MY JOURNEY. I can’t believe it’s finally happening!