And that’s it, as I write this I am finishing my final two papers of the semester, and I have one of my suitcases fully packed (the other is entirely empty so I have a ways to go). For our final day here in London, a few of us woke up early to see the sunrise on Primrose Hill, ever the melodramatic college students we are. It’s been about three months since we arrived for orientation, jet lagged and sweaty in the summer heat of the city. The heat lasted for the majority of our time here too. Don’t listen to people when they tell you that London is cold and wet and gray everyday because it simply isn’t true. My entire flat complained about the heat up until mid-October, and while it did rain, it was infrequent drizzles rather than the constant downpour I was led to believe—my umbrella was literally only used twice.
Am I sad that my semester abroad is over? Yes, absolutely. I could stay for a full year and be happy if the program (and my wallet) allowed it. But the fact that my flight back home leaves in just over 12 hours and I must be on it when it does makes me want to embrace the inevitable. So today I accepted that it was the last time I would see London in what will likely be years (if I ever do get the chance to come back). I saw my last sunrise over the city, I had my last legal pint until May, I took my last tube to a Winter Wonderland festival where I rode my last roller coaster abroad, spent my last few pounds and then took my last red double decker bus home.
My advice to someone considering studying abroad in the future: do it. Get off of campus and study in London (or find a program through another school and get the Center for Global Education to help you out). There’s a different kind of freedom with studying abroad than you get back at Drew because you are so dependent on yourself here. There isn’t a Commons or EC to feed you, so you learn to budget your groceries and cook for yourself. You feel guilty spending the day on Netflix knowing your time abroad is limited so you go out more, to museums, concerts, parks—it doesn’t matter, you just find yourself wanting to see it all (and a lot of it can be done for free).
I don’t want to pretend the London Semester was something glamorous and perfect—it wasn’t. Our heating was shit. Living in a small flat with 7 other people? A nightmare. And having to commute 40 minutes to class on public transport, often not finding a seat so you’re forced to stand the whole time, well, it’s an inconvenience I won’t miss next semester back on campus. But the professors were amazing. The free time almost overwhelming. And the plain thrill of being thousands of miles from home is something everyone should experience. Studying abroad is the only chance you’ll ever get to live conveniently in another country, so I say if you have the chance, do it.
I’ll miss London starting tomorrow.
(But I’m ready to see my dogs again. And I guess my family too.)