One year ago, I was just beginning the most rewarding experience of my life thus far – the four months I spent studying abroad in London. Still to this day, it’s difficult to describe how living and studying in London greatly influenced, and continues to influence, my life. Arriving in a foreign country, even one with the same language, and having to immerse yourself in a culture and way of life so drastically different from your own… was nothing short of terrifying.
As scary as it was, however, I can thank London for opening my eyes and expanding my views on the world, on people, and on life itself. London was a growing experience; it created a sense of optimism and independence that I had never seen in myself before, and I am so incredibly grateful for that. Each day I am thankful for the meaningful friendships I formed in London, with people who understood the kind of personal growth and change that occurs during study abroad. After all, there is really something to be said about people who stay in shady Irish hostels with you, carry your drunk ass through the streets of Florence, and even share a bath with you when the hot water runs out in the one shower you have in your small, overcrowded flat.
These people share experiences with you that change you in ways that you couldn’t possibly explain to your friends and family back home. These people are apart of things that may seem humorous or like “just another day” to the study abroad student… but would simply terrify your over-concerned mother. And really, how beautiful is that? I am positive that I have never found stronger, more steadfast friendships than I have in the people who saw the absolute best and the absolute worst of me, but supported me nonetheless, over the four months of the complete, wonderful chaos that was studying abroad.
These are people, these are lifelong friends, who understand that you don’t just return home the same person you were as you left. People who know firsthand and can agree that the lessons you learn while studying abroad are not just things you leave in your host country – you take them with you, you carry them home, and they change the very way you live your life.
So thank you, London, for changing my life as I knew it. Thank you for making me fall in love with your beauty and your culture; one full of fascinating history, a rich diversity, and a refreshing open-mindedness brought to life by the passionate people who call you home. Thank you for opening my eyes to the endless possibilities the world has to offer. Thank you for introducing me to some of the most beautiful, honest, and rewarding friendships of my life, friendships that continue to provide me with support and grow stronger every day.
But most of all, London, thank for making me feel for the first time in my life, that I had found a place, a culture where even as an outsider, I felt I truly belonged.
London: I love ya, I miss ya, and I hope to see you soon.