No matter how often study abroad advisors tell you that studying abroad will change you and push you out of your comfort zone, it never really hits you until you’re halfway around the world without anyone you know. I’ve never been a fan of change but now that I’m almost done with my quarter abroad in London it’s something I’ve had to embrace—no matter how difficult, embarrassing and awkward it can be (and it’s been all three).
The day I left for London it finally sunk in that I would be gone for 10 weeks. As I said a teary-eyed goodbye to my mom I wanted nothing more than to cling to her legs and have her take me back home. What the hell was I thinking that I could survive 10 weeks away from everything I was familiar with? I was certain I’d probably die…yes, all my thoughts in that moment were as melodramatic as cheesy daytime soap operas.
Things only escalated once I got off the plane at Heathrow. Somehow I lost all my reading capabilities and it took me a half hour to find the exit, and the anxiety that hit me once I had to walk around looking for my host family was enough to almost make me cry. How would I find them? Would they like me? What if they hated me?
Looking back, I can’t help but laugh and roll my eyes at how negative I was because now I absolutely love my host family. Les and Hazel are a retired couple and they’re possibly the nicest people in all of London. I never get tired of being called “love” and “sweetheart” and drinking Hazel’s amazing British tea (with my pinky up since I’m just so fancy). I feel like I’ve gotten so used to living with them that going back home is actually going to feel strange and bizarre. This is something I never imagined would happen to me.
Living with a new roommate took some getting used to. Isabel and I knew each other through mutual friends, but we were still strangers. While her chronic resting bitch face and condescending remarks can get annoying at times, we’ve managed to make it work. Through the process I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to be a ray of sunshine all the time and that’s okay. Sure, Isabel has her moments where I mentally punch her in the face, but overall, it’s been nice making a friend who’s so different from me and the people I surround myself with.
For someone who’s as much of a homebody as I am, I haven’t missed home as much as I thought I would. Correction: I haven’t missed home at all (sorry, mom). Sure, I miss my family but there’s so much to see and do in London that it completely overshadows the homesickness. I got to walk across Abbey Road which is every Beatles fan’s dream come true for crying out loud! Forget going back home to my crappy farming town. London > any other place in the world.
In terms of a social life, I’ve never really had one. I’m not trying to be funny, I’m dead serious. I’m really boring and my interactions with people other than my roommate and family are minimal. This explains why everyone was super excited when I got accepted to the program because, finally, I’d be around other human beings. I went out to a club last week and ended the night kissing some Italian guy who shoved his tongue so far down my throat I almost choked. He kept grabbing my nonexistent ass. Um… that was a lot more than I bargained for. But hey, at least I didn’t kiss the creepy 32-year-old on the bus who wanted to take me out for a drink because I was a “good-looking girl.” As I write this, I can’t believe that this is something that happened to the same girl who six weeks ago couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her mommy.
Yes, London has been the site of new and exciting experiences, but have they really changed me? I think so. I’m still the same socially awkward loser but in a way I feel like a different side of me has been exposed. The side that gives zero f’s about dancing like an idiot to Taylor Swift at clubs, taking tons of touristy selfies and, you know, interacting with more than three people on a daily basis. Thanks, London. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a warm cup of tea calling my name. Cheers!