The countdown to saying goodbye has begun. Finals are right around the corner, and I’m already contemplating how to fit everything back in my suitcases. When I embarked on this adventure—moving my life to a country I had never stepped foot in—I was scared. I was nervous about not knowing anyone, not knowing anything about where I was about to call home. But that fear and anxiety soon went away, and I fell in love with London the second I stepped off the plane.
From the bus ride to our housing to meeting my roommate, I held onto the fact that this once-in- a-lifetime adventure was going to be worth it—I just had to put myself out there to experience it. I learned how to navigate the tube, carrying a book and headphones at all times for those extra long rides. I made friendships I know I will hold onto as we return home. I went to destinations I had only ever seen on a Pinterest board. I checked new experiences off my bucket list right and left.
One of my friends once asked, “Is home where you are currently or where you are from?” This is an important question that I think can house multiple answers. There is nothing like going home to that first safe environment surrounded by the people who love you, but “home” also can be somewhere, something, or someone that may be just a brief part of your life.
London feels comfortable for being such a big city—in fact, I would call it home. In a city filled with 8 million people, I feel at home on late night runs to get McFlurries with my friends. I feel at home listening to my playlists on the tube. I feel at home when the sun shines down through the buildings.I feel at home hearing and seeing different cultures all around me. I feel at home finding familiarity in the unfamiliar.
The past three and a half months have flown by as I now sit in my flat, wondering how I am going to stuff in everything I want to do in my last few days. Time in my new home is slipping away, but I know that the memories and friendships I made here will last for a lifetime. So, while I will most definitely be bawling while I board my plane, I know that I will always be welcomed home—the people I met, the new food I tried, the endless laughs, the trips planned, and every little moment in between. This home is always going to be a part of me.
As I finish packing up my suitcases and cross my fingers that they are not overweight, I am so thankful. It was nothing like I expected, but when does life really play out how we think it will? Even being in the midst of a global pandemic, I would not give up this experience for anything. Masks, weekly COVID tests, and passenger locator forms could not stop me from making the best out of the time I had here. I cannot wait until the day I get to return to my London home, but until then I will carry the memories I made here with me whenever I go.