Right now I am 7 hours into a 9 hour plane ride back to the States. While I’m sure this post will go up much later (since I’m a bit behind on posting) I wanted to write it now when the semester is really coming to an end. I don’t want this to be a long final post, as I have really expressed a lot of my feelings about this program in previous posts, but I did want to have one final look back over this semester.
I can safely say that this has been the best semester I’ve ever had. The program was amazing and every experience I had, every trip I took, every person I met had an impact on me and played an important role in making this experience as amazing as it was. Before going abroad, I was terrified by the idea. I’ve never been away from home for 4 months straight, and I’ve never lived in a city even close to the size of London. I didn’t know anyone on my trip and I didn’t know what to expect. Even after I boarded my American Airlines flight to Heathrow back in August, I was trembling. I couldn’t sleep the entire red eye flight except for one thirty-minute nap that I took near the end. When I woke up from this nap as the flight attendants were serving breakfast, I opened my window and looked out.
My mom always says that she takes memories like taking snapshots. There are certain images, certain moments, that she freezes in her mind and thinks back to. That moment when I lifted the blind and saw the sun rising over London and into the clouds was a snapshot moment for me. In just a second I wasn’t so worried anymore; certainly I was still scared, but I knew that what I was about to do would change the way I thought, the way I saw the world, and even the way I saw myself, and I was excited. Throughout this program I look back to that moment as the beginning.
Which begs the question now, on the end of my flight back to the States, of if this is the end to that beginning. It may be the end of my semester, but I don’t want to think of it as an end point to that moment on my first morning in London. If anything, this program has just made me want to travel more than ever, and even less afraid or worried about doing so. When I arrived back in London last night after being in Ireland, I had the feeling of being home. I knew every neighborhood we passed, I knew what bus to take and how long it would take to get there, I knew how many stops until home, I knew where to stand on the underground platform to be right in front of the door when they open, I knew which lines go where and what zone they are in. These all may seem like small details, but I really appreciated this program for how it didn’t just show me another country, but made that country my home.
Now, I will be less hesitant when I want to travel, and more sure of what I like and how I want to spend my time. Before this program, I wanted to go immediately to grad school after undergrad, probably to get my MFA in creative writing. While I still want to do this, this program has made me want to take a year or two off before grad school and teach abroad. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but I’m interested in returning to Spain to teach, or trying somewhere entirely new, like Thailand. And even before this program was over, I started encouraging other friends to travel with me. I’ve started planning trips to the South of France with my best friend Gloria for her 21st birthday, and a road trip across the US to California with Dylan and our friend Sam. I’ve also begun to plan a backpacking trip after graduation starting in Amsterdam, moving through Austria and Germany, and ending in the North of Italy. While not all of these trips will happen (I don’t have the money to make these things all happen right away) I know that I will make it to all of these places and more eventually. And I can’t wait for that to happen.
Yes, that morning on the plane was certainly a beginning for me. But I refuse to think of this as an endpoint. Instead, I will remember that moment as a beginning that has no end, a beginning that keeps happening over and over again. And don’t worry. Next time I do one of these trips, I’ll be right back here, talking (probably too much) about them all. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time!