By the time this is posted I will either be on at the airport, on an airplane, or standing on American soil (in the lush area known as Newark). That’s right this is my last post from London. I meant to write this last weekend so that I could get two more in before I left but it’s a big job getting ready to leave and I’ve just been very busy. Plus I knew that this post would be one of the hardest to write because writing it means that I really am leaving. So of course I left it until after midnight on the night before I leave. I’m in a rather melancholy mood at the moment. I have a lot to look forward to at home: my family, my boyfriend, my friends, a party, an internship, another party, a day at the shore. And that’s just within the next two weeks. I am very excited about all these things and consequently my mood for the past week or so has been moving up and down pretty often. I love everything I have at home and my life there. But I also love being here and the academics and life I’ve experienced.
I have to say I’ve adapted to city life much better than I thought I would. I mean I knew I’d survive and get used to it and all that, but I actually really like it too. I originally thought that it might get a bit gloomy and lonely which it can occasionally, but London just has so many green spaces and opportunities for socializing that I hardly notice the negatives. The parks, squares, and gardens are definitely a big part of this. If it wasn’t so easy for me to get to a place where I felt I was getting fresh air, I probably wouldn’t like it here so much. They really are a great escape from the city. Some of my best days were spent walking around parks on a sunny day, occasionally sitting out and enjoy a book for an entire afternoon. It’s quite nice. Besides the parks, the pubs are also a nice escape from the solitude of city life. It’s just usually a nice atmosphere—people stop by after work or after lectures just to catch up with friends and enjoy each other’s company, have a bit to drink, and maybe a bite to eat. I only went a couple times during my stay here but they were always enjoyable experiences. It’s always entertaining to walk down the street in the late afternoon/early evening and start seeing all the pubs filling up to the point where everyone is just outside chatting away. And this happens at pretty much every pub you pass (think like one every block or two). It’s quite the phenomenon.
There are lots of other things I’ll miss, though I probably don’t even know what lots of them are yet. I know I’ll miss all the free museums. Especially the National Gallery. I went there one last time yesterday and I was still discovering rooms I hadn’t seen. Although I think I’ve covered the whole building now. I’ll miss fish and chips. Another thing I only experienced a couple times (mostly just because most of my meals were catered by the school or me cooking pasta), but something I found very tasty, if definitely not healthy. I’ll miss the public transportation. Not because I love crowds and being in cement tunnels, but because it was pretty efficient, rarely creepy, and quite often entertaining. Alas who knows when I’ll next find myself sitting on an underground train, avoiding eye contact, and keeping a blank face? I think those are all the physical things I’ll miss (that I can think of), although all of them are connected to memories and feelings from my time here. I have to say though that what I’ll probably miss most is the independence.
I don’t think I’ve really changed all that much since being here. I was a pretty independent person to start with (well at least I like to think I was). However, in my time here I have had a greater feeling of freedom than before. I love my college and I am relatively independent while there. I make decisions on how to schedule my time, etc. However, there’s nowhere to really go at Ursinus. It’s kind of a bubble. A very nice bubble where I have some great friends and professors, but a bubble nonetheless. Going anywhere off campus involves a plan and a car. Here, there are endless possibilities and it doesn’t seem absurd for me to walk 30/40 minutes to get somewhere (though the tube is a nice option too). I realize this is a city thing and if I had chosen a university in a city I would probably have a similar experience, but there is something extra exciting about the fact that it’s a city not in the US. While sometimes I miss being able to walk around in sweatpants to grab a snack from the convenience store, having more than one store within a 10 minute walk is pretty nice too. Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed the freedom to travel and walk wherever I’d like to go with very little problem. And with all my trips both within the UK and without, I’ve gotten quite used to traveling alone or with friends which kind of makes me feel like an adult (I have to book flights and hostels myself?). But I’ll probably still make my parents order takeout when I’m home (why are phone conversations with strangers so awkward?)
I wish I had some big insight to share for my final post, but honestly I’m getting a little tired and I still have lots to do in the morning. I’m really rather sad to leave. My time here has passed so quickly and I’m not sure I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to in my time here. I’m definitely glad I decided to come here. While there might be things I would do differently if I could do this experience over, this has definitely been a great time and something I’ll probably always remember and want to come back to. I really just want to live here again, but the way I see my life shaping up now I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity. But, I’m not a psychic (not even a pretend one) so I’m not going to worry about it too much. I know I’ll visit again and I still have lots of time to figure everything else out.