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Sickness and Home Sickness

With six weeks left before I leave Oxford, I have recently been torn (more than usual) between counting down the days before I can return home and wishing I had more time to explore this beautiful city. This past weekend I was stuck in bed due to a nasty cold, making both desires even more extreme.

There’s nothing like being sick to make you wish you’re at home with your family, or even just in a cozy place with the support of friends. My memories of being sick, fortunately, are accompanied by strong feelings of comfort. I am a worrier by nature, and my usual attitude towards any sickness is panic for my life (drastic, I know). My mom has always been a master at quelling those unreasonable worries. At school, I’ve always been lucky enough to have had compassionate friends who are quick to check in on me if I get sick, bringing plenty of vitamins/baked goods/warm, fuzzy feelings in tow.That family/friends (for me, the lines have been blurry–as cheesy as it is to say, many of my friends are so close that I consider them family, and my mom is as much a friend to me as a parent) support system is still present from afar, but it isn’t the same. I received the loveliest email from my mom a few days ago (with a very apt reminder that a cold certainly couldn’t kill me) that made me feel about 10x better, but also made me miss her all the more. My mom and I talk often–at least several times per week–but as much as I love our phone calls, video chats, and emails, my service often cuts out, making conversations disjointed. Not to mention the lack of hugs involved. I had a long phone call with my good friend MacKenzie recently, which was similarly comforting/saddening–we always have the greatest adventures together, and I often have thought how much more fun exploring this city would be if we could do it together.

For me, the hardest and yet most exciting part about being away for so long is the guarantee of change when I return. No phone call can convey how much has changed in the time since I’ve been gone, between my own growth and that of my friends (both those who went abroad and those still at Whitman) and family. It’s scary to think how much could be different, but also thrilling–and means that there will be plenty to discuss when I return.

But despite the melancholic ties I’ve maintained while abroad, I’ve largely tried to stay in the moment. Being bed-bound for a weekend meant anxiously stalling my experiences in the new SPRING Oxford (well, mostly spring–the weekend was sunny and beautiful, according to my window, through the misty rain has now returned again). Now, as my cough slowly disappears, I am revving up for some lovely adventures. After gaining academic confidence in Oxford’s vastly different educational system towards the end of last term, I’m luckily in a place where I feel ready to balance my work with taking advantage of the intermittently lovely weather. On the agenda: punting on the River Thames, visiting the Brighton Pier, and hopefully getting a chance to see the famous Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral! I’ve already been lucky enough to attend some remarkable concerts (including a jazz concert in the dark, which followed a scientific lecture about light and darkness; perfectly Oxford) and to get a true taste of Oxford tradition by attending the May Morning celebration!

Ultimately, it’s an understatement to say that leaving Oxford will be bittersweet. It took me awhile to truly warm up to the place, but my experiences with new friends and new ideas have been amazing. I’m not quite done having these experiences. Still, the prospect of returning to the people I love and sharing my experiences–well, it just sounds wonderful. :)

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