Transitions are hard. When I first arrived in London, I was forced to adjust – to the culture shock, to major public transportation, to living and studying with new people, to being independent in a foreign city. These were challenges that blossomed into seven amazing weeks, yet now I’m back in the United States.
I now realize that coming back is harder than it seems – there’s reverse culture shock, missing the friends you made, wishing you could have spent more time in your city, and any lingering regrets of places you should have gone or things you should have done. I left London ready to go home to Cincinnati and eager to start my junior year at Indiana University, but there was a part of me still not ready to leave. In my seven weeks, I got to know Central London well – but there was so much more I didn’t have time to see. If I had more time, I would have loved to explore more parts of the city, like Notting Hill or Chelsea, taken a tour of Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, or even traveled more around the countryside.
Small travel regrets aside, it’s hard to leave newfound independence and a city teeming with possibilities and countless numbers of attractions. It makes coming home and back to school seem dull by comparison, and I’ve felt restless in the weeks since being back in the Midwest. But with that restlessness comes an urge to travel again, to push myself academically, and to experience more of what life has to offer. I want to travel as much as I can, apply myself to my classes, and say yes to opportunities that arise.
This is the mindset I want to have as I begin my junior year and adjust to being back in the United States. I miss London constantly – taking the Tube to go to class, the hustle and bustle of the inner city, the friends I made there, and so much more – but I’m determined to make this my best year of college so far. I want to take my study abroad experiences and use them as a building block for the rest of my academic and professional career. I want to look back at my memories, not just with nostalgia, but as inspiration for my next travel adventure. I’m not sure when and where that adventure will be, but I can’t wait to find out.