I spent my junior spring abroad in London, England. Though it was one of the best experiences of my life, the process of actually getting my body on the plane that would take me across the ocean from the people I love most in this world was not an easy one. I don’t want this article to be about how changed and cultured I became after going abroad, because that’s a worn-out narrative that doesn’t need re-telling. But I want anyone who is scared of going abroad, or leaving Colgate in any capacity (graduation is a looming inevitability), to read this and feel a little less terrified.
Truthfully, I hated being abroad at first. I hated that I didn’t know anyone in my study group very well. I hated the time difference that kept me from being able to incessantly FaceTime my friends and family to talk about how much I hated all of it, and I hated that I had chosen to leave the only other place outside of Oberlin, Ohio that I considered home.
The infamous night that encapsulates my less-than-stellar first week abroad can be summed up in a dinner I went to in Chinatown with two of my roommates and some other students from the University of Delaware who were also studying abroad. It was their last week of studies in London and I remember the intense jealousy building inside me as they spoke about their plans for their last day. I wanted it to be my last week in London.
It started with the horrible pad thai. Then it was made worse by the fact that we did not yet know that in the U.K., you have to ask for the check for it to ever be brought to you. This was then aggrandized by our failing to take into account the gratuity that is automatically totaled into the check. I remember sitting at the table holding back tears trying to figure out why the two pence coin was larger than the 50 pence one.
As soon as I could, I nearly ran out of the restaurant with Karrie (our lovely Editor-In-Chief ). As this was one of our first nights in London, we did not know each other well. Yet my resentment of being there was overwhelming and I couldn’t help but admit my shame of thinking that I was the only person in London that was actually sad to be in London. The walk was far and damp, the perfect setting for our melodramatic moods. Talking to Karrie made me realize that I was not alone in my emotions.
Though that all sounds horrible, I look back on it now and laugh. Four months seemed like an eternity, and by the end I was craving more time. I fell in love with the city and with the people I met, and I finally realized that there is a life outside of the Colgate bubble. I learned that sometimes taking a step back is necessary to appreciate the spaces and the people who inhabit our comfort zones. New experiences are waiting beyond the hill, and I truly encourage all of us, whether we have four years left or less than one, to embrace new opportunities that Colgate makes available to us, and to believe that though these four years will always be memorable, they don’t have to be the best of our lives.
Contact Reyna LaRiccia at [email protected]