Last Updated on June 21, 2019 by Stephanie Onderick
I remember my first day arriving in London as if it were yesterday. I mean, it sure feels that way. I remember my friend, Allie, taking my picture on the steps of Atlantic House just as my journey was beginning. I remember walking down Kensington High Street that very same day and just thinking, “How am I ever going to figure this place out?” But it became easy. The Tube became second nature, High Street became the shopping paradise, and London itself became home.
How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so difficult?
Fair warning: time will fly. I knew it would and I even kept it in my head that it was inevitable, but that still doesn’t take away the shock factor of “Wow, this is my last day.” Nothing can prepare you as you sit with your luggage packed in a once filled dorm room and watch the hours count down.
However, even though the end draws near, it is weirdly one of my favorite times. Everyone is reminiscing and sharing laughs about things that occurred and the memories that were made. I see both tears of happiness and sadness, but I’d like to believe in the truth that they are a mixture of both. It’s all so bittersweet and it is all so incredibly surreal.
I sit here thinking, “How am I ever going to be able to describe this experience to my family? To my friends?” The truth is you can’t. Study abroad is something so special that only you will be able to know. No one at home is going to know your walks to class or down the street to get coffee. Nobody can understand your spur of the moment weekend trips on cramped and delayed airlines whose sole purpose is to get you from Point A to Point B. There is no way to explain that you now have friends in Colorado, Long Island, California, and even Canada without sounding completely crazy. Most importantly, there are no words to describe this experience no matter how badly you wish to try; and that should not be viewed as negative.
It makes this experience completely yours. It remains to be a chapter in your life that you can cherish forever in your heart. I know that I will always hold London dear to my heart. This opportunity and the people I encountered along the way are completely irreplaceable.
The W8 5PN will see me again. Until then, London.
This post was contributed by Stephanie Onderick, who spent her fall semester studying abroad with AIFS in London, England.