It has been two weeks since I landed back in Boston, and I have procrastinated this post long enough. I knew in high school that I wanted to study abroad, but for years the thought of that becoming a reality seemed so surreal. Regardless of how much you prepare, you truly have no idea of what you will experience until the day that you board the plane and depart to your new home. It is so hard to come to terms with leaving London, because I am no longer going to study abroad, but I did study abroad. I forgot that this experience would eventually come to a close. London has a special place in my heart and will forever feel like a second home to me.
I have since returned to my small town of Sutton, Massachusetts where the grocery store is now a 15-minute drive instead of a 5-minute walk. I do miss the ease and convenience of transportation where everything is a tube ride away. Nonetheless, I am happy to be home. As much as I wish it was the norm to be traveling Europe all year long, it feels great to see family and friends and return to the normal routine of a 20-year-old.
As I look back and try to reflect on the past 105 days, I am so incredibly thankful for each and every experience. Not every moment was perfect, nor was every day, but I am grateful for all of it –the good and the bad—because those experiences have transformed me. I’ve gained an entirely new sense of independence. The independence that comes from grocery shopping and cooking for myself has taught me how to live without relying on my mom’s cooking or a meal plan at school. I have learned how to plan trips across Europe and navigate a new place on a whim. I no longer feel the same anxiety from an unfamiliar setting, but instead I crave that new places and adventures.
If there’s one thing I learned from this experience it is to stop taking home for granted. In my many conversations and encounters with Londoners I began to notice that I had sometimes done more, seen more, and experienced more than those that have lived there all their life. I was amazed! London, to me, is the greatest city in the world. Whenever asked ‘Why London?’ I am quick to respond with Samuel Johnson’s “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Samuel, sir, I am in 100% agreement with you. How could you not take advantage of everything there is to see and do?! And then it hit me: everyone takes their home for granted. I am a 50-minute train ride from Boston, yet I visit the city maybe once a year. Strangers I met across the pond have done more in my city than they have in theirs.
I am going to encourage my readers as much as I am beginning to encourage myself. You may have a passion for travel, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get on a plane to get there. Try waking up one day, walking outside, and explore the area you know so well. See new places, do new things, and adventure like you don’t live there. This is certainly no revolutionary idea, but I am continuing to remind myself to not forget the gems in the world that are right under my nose.
As a newfound travel planning connoisseur, I am putting my skills to use by planning my next adventure as if it’s an entirely new country. I know I will one day return to London, but until then…cheers! For now, I’ll start with Boston.
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<p>Hi I'm Maddy! I am a rising junior at Providence College and I am from a small town in central Massachusetts. I am the middle of five kids in my family, but I am the first to be studying abroad! I love to run and I think that's a great way to explore and learn a new place (not to mention it is some time in peace away from the chaos of a busy house!). I also love reading, writing, and all things makeup. I have been to very few states in the U.S. that do not touch Massachusetts, but I once made my way to Spain for ten days.</p>