Wow. As I type, I am on a bus to the airport, passing the grandiose buildings and beautiful stretches of river and field of Oxford for the last time (at least for now!). I’m listening to the same playlist that I listened to on my way here in January, with the same precariously overstuffed backpack at my feet. But I could not feel any more different from then than I do now.
When I first arrived in Oxford, I was not in a very good place; in addition to the usual anxiety of starting a new life in a new country, I was feeling emotionally unprepared for such an ambitious journey, as I was dealing with some difficulties personally and at home. The excitement of orientation put some of my worries at rest, but they returned as I started my studies. Though I know I’ve touched on it previously, I don’t think I’ve fully described the extent to which I struggled those first few months. I felt completely overwhelmed by anxiety, worry, and insecurity much more often than not.
At first, I was upset with myself for struggling. But importantly, I made the decision to get help. I spent more time with my fellow visiting students, who became my good friends and helped form a new support system for me; I talked about my academic work with the tutor for visiting, who offered valuable tips and strategies that helped me feel more confident about my writing; and I started seeing a counselor, who helped me to overcome (or at least cope with) the emotional difficulties I had been having. I am indebted to all of the individuals who helped me. And I am so proud of myself (a feeling that I only recently realized that I don’t have often enough) for accepting that I could not get through those first few months alone, and for pursuing the help that I needed.
A few days ago, I had Principal’s Collections. I sat with my college’s Principal and Head Tutor as the Visiting Students Tutor read out my reports for this term. Hearing the positive and kind words of praise I received from my tutors, I felt proud of the strides I have made this term. Despite initial difficulties, I kept going, and put so much hard work into subjects that I am incredibly passionate about.
Now, as I return, I feel a sense of confidence and accomplishment that I simply could not have imagined when I first set out for the UK. Originally, I felt so nervous and worried that I did not think I could get through the full semester. But now I know I was and am strong enough not merely to get through, but to do very well at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. And not only that, but I also learned how to balance my work in such a way that I had a deeply memorable experience outside of my academic life. I made great friends, explored fantastic places, and got to know Oxford in just they way I had hoped I would.
Though I will miss Oxford and all the friends I have made (goodbyes last night where terribly difficult), I am very ready to go home. I am satisfied with the way this semester has gone, and I really feel that I have accomplished everything that I wanted to here. I am thrilled to finally see my mom again, to get back to the places I’ve missed (Trader Joe’s…), and to feel the comfort of home. In all, today is a wonderful day, and I feel good.
I’ll sign off with a few photos of my recent adventures. And now, I have a plane to catch!
1. The Brighton Pier, seen from the beach; 2. Afternoon tea at The Little Teashop in the Lanes in Brighton; 3. A spire of the Salisbury Cathedral, seen from the cloisters; 4. Stonehenge!; 5. A cat hiding in Port Meadow; 6. Port Meadow path; 7. The set for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London; 8. Vegan chocolate cake and an almond milk cappuccino at Barefoot Cafe in Jericho, Oxford; 9. Punting with friends on the River Thames!