As the plane left the ground from Heathrow headed across the Atlantic, I cried. Of course, I was incredibly sad that my study abroad adventure had come to an end, but my tears were much more complex than that. In fact, since my last day in London, processing the last three and a half months of my life has been a fascinatingly complicated process. My first few days back, I was surprised that I wasn’t just being emotional and lamenting the end of the greatest experience of my life; rather, being thrown back into reality had me thinking, "What just happened?" almost as if my time in London was a fantastic dream from which I had just woken up. After that first initial shock of landing back down on planet Earth, I began to realize that processing my incredibly action-packed and adventure-filled 103 days in London wouldn’t happen quickly. Even as I write this, weeks after I returned from Europe, I still find myself lost in thought, reminiscing on all the memories I made abroad. It’s kind of funny how it happens—every day it’s like my brain draws a raffle to make me remember parts of the trip that I maybe haven’t even thought about since they happened. Of course, the big events you attend and trips you take are some of the most memorable parts of going abroad, but the small, niche moments are worth just as much. Whether it's missing your favorite bakery (Kossof’s in Kentish Town!), remembering a brief, one-time, friendly interaction you had with a local stranger, or maybe the first time you met a random person who would end up becoming your best friend abroad. These are the experiences that define my study abroad adventure.
While reminiscing about study abroad is largely positive, it can sometimes be hard to not let regret creep in. Especially in a city like London, where it seems like you could live there for decades and still never explore everything, I have struggled with the rhetoric of why didn’t I try to do more? Or why did I relax that one weekend instead of taking a weekend trip to another country? and I think that those intrusive thoughts are actually totally natural. We all want our study abroad experience to be filled to the brim with stories and experiences, but it’s simply impossible to do it all in the short semester—a semester that, to be honest, flew by far faster than I ever could’ve imagined. My list of places I want to explore in London is actually even much longer now than it was when I got there! This is, in my eyes, one of the main reasons why studying abroad is just so important and life-changing—for me, it exposed me to a whole new way of traveling and experiencing a city, and, more importantly, turned my spark of curiosity and excitement for travel into a roaring fire. While my time abroad is now over, I can only hope that it was just the beginning of a lifetime of travel and new adventures. Dear London, thank you for the most enriching 103 days of my life. I have no doubt that I’ll see you soon for more.
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<p>Hi! I'm Sam and I'm from Denver, Colorado. I'm a junior at CU Boulder studying Musical Theatre and Computer Science. I love spending my time adventuring in the great outdoors, singing and playing piano, learning new languages, hanging out with friends, watching movies, and traveling as often as I can!</p>