Farewell to the Familiar

I always knew I wanted to study abroad during college, but the actuality of it always seemed so far away, more of a distant thought than an actual reality that I would someday live. But now here I am, getting ready to leave for London and live across the ocean and thousands of miles away from home. Until this past fall, it never really sank in that I would be spending the entirety of the next semester in another country. Feelings of excitement, anticipation, and nervousness have been a constant part of me the past few months, but especially now that I leave in less than two weeks. I am so excited to live in one of the greatest cities in the world, travel around Europe, and meet so many new friends. However, I’m also nervous and not quite ready to leave all of my friends and family in Wisconsin behind.

I’ve never lived farther than two hours away from my family, and I’ve gotten so used to having my best friends always within walking distance. Saying goodbye after goodbye to my friends when fall semester ended, realizing I wouldn’t see most of them for at least six months and some not until next fall, was incredibly hard. So understandably, there are some mixed feelings about leaving for five months. Besides not having my favorite people with me, a lot of them stem from this being such an unfamiliar situation and so much being unknown: what my roommates will be like, what classes will be like, etc. Still, I know that studying abroad will be one of the best experiences of my life and that it will help me grow and evolve as a person in ways I can’t even comprehend yet.

I’ve been to London twice before – once when I was 12 and once just this past May on vacation with my family. It’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever been, so full of life and pubs and history and delicious food. I can’t wait to spend five months there getting to know the city like the back of my hand. My brother also studied in London and one of my friends did too, so I’ll be spending my first couple weeks visiting their favorite places they recommended to me. I remember passing a restaurant last time I was there that was all about mashed potatoes (one of my favorite foods), so needless to say I will be going there on day one.

As I get closer and closer to my departure date, the nerves are growing, but the excitement overpowers them. Although I know the adjustment will be difficult, the next five months of my life will be five I’ll never forget. Also, getting to skip the cold and snowy Wisconsin winter – and maybe another polar vortex – this year is a huge plus. The goodbyes to everyone I love were tough, but I’m saying an enthusiastic “hello” to the next chapter of my life, however unfamiliar and nerve-wracking it may be. Here’s to hoping I figure out how to pack my life into two suitcases and a backpack, that I’ll figure out my new normal, and, most importantly, that I come back with a British accent (or at least with the ability to fake one really well).