A Love Letter to London

To everyone who has stuck by and read all of my blog posts about studying abroad, thank you. I am well aware of the repetitive nature of a lot of those posts and the fact that I have said a variation of the phrase "study abroad" around 1.2 million times on my blog from July to right now. But, I don't particularly care that it may have been annoying or boring. This blog is for me before it is for anyone else; I enjoy writing about my life and studying abroad has been my life for the past year. So, here's to my (probably) last post about it. Take a shot every time you read any variation of the phrase "study abroad" it'll make it more fun for you, I'm sure.

London has taught me so many things. Most of which I didn't even know I needed to learn. I have spent quite a few long nights here wishing nothing more than to be at home in my own bed. However, something that I didn't really realize until the other day was how much I am going to miss this city. I have gotten into such a routine living here that I honestly didn't even realize how much is going to change when I get home. The thought of not being here and losing everything I have fallen in love with about this city is daunting.

From the moment I landed in Heathrow over five months ago, I felt very at home in this city. I wasn't overwhelmed by the crowds or utterly confusing streets. In fact, one of my absolute favorite things to do here has been to get lost, to just get off at a tube station and then wander around for a while. It is a calming way to spend an afternoon.

Even on the coldest days in January, the old architecture, overpriced coffee, and overcast skies wrapped me in a hug and made me feel at home. When I was having a bad day, I could just go hop on the tube and head to a museum to mindlessly wander the afternoon away and feel a little bit better. That's the biggest lesson that London has taught me, that it is okay to not feel okay. And that no matter how awful you feel there is absolutely nothing a chai latte and a walk through Regents Park cannot fix.

I'm going to miss the easy access to such amazing places. The tube (minus the circle and district lines) is the most convenient and well functioning public transport I have ever used and I will miss it dearly. I remember in the first few months of being here I would look up the way to get from point A to point B a thousand times before getting on the tube. Now, I will just say "let's go to this area" and hop on the tube without a second thought or a glance at the journey planner. A confidence I thoroughly enjoy even when I get lost.

One week from today I will be sitting in Heathrow airport once again waiting for an evening flight to Philadelphia with my best friend, Maddie. It feels way too close but also too far away at the same time. I've grown to love London with all of my heart. I know I am leaving a part of my heart here but I am happy to. I can't wait to no longer be living in a room the size of a shoe box with a shower that mildly floods. However, I also can't wait for the day I get to come back here and be reunited with the comfort, beauty, and magic of this city once again.

Both of my study abroad experiences taught me different things. In Australia I learned a lot about friendship. I made so many incredible friends from across the globe while there and I am so grateful for everything I learned from them. They are what inspired the series I did for Loco while there, This Is. I learned how to be a good friend, how important communication is, and how healthy it is to remove yourself from bad friendships.

Studying in London taught me a lot about independence. I, mistakenly, thought when I left Australia that I had myself figured out to a T. Long story short, I didn't. And really, I still don't fully. London has taught me how to be an independent person completely content with myself. I've been independent for most of my life, and I never really thought about it until I was here and my independence was sort of put to the test. I had a decent amount of bad days here, days when I just felt like everything was spiraling out of control and I couldn't do anything to make it right. I was the one who had to calm myself down and figure it all out on my own. Sure, I made countless phone calls to my (incredible) friends panicking about my life, but at some point those became few and far between; I became better at handling my problems on my own. I owe that problem solving and soul searching to London. This city has made me a better version of myself.

A realization I had while in the shower the other day-because where else do good thoughts come from except the shower-was that had I not studied abroad for my junior year I would not be as happy and emotionally/mentally healthy as I am now. Leaving my sophomore year was not done on a happy or healthy note, far from it. Am I partly to blame for that? Yes, which took me a long time to come to terms with but I know it is the truth. I had a lot of confusion, anger, and hurt inside me and I did not want to deal with it at all. I think that had I gone back to Arcadia for my junior year things would not have gone well. Leaving the country for these ten months has truly been something I needed, whether I knew it or not. For every time I sat on the floor and cried because I wanted to go home there were ten other times where I smiled so much and laughed so hard that my face hurt. I wouldn't trade these ten months for anything, they challenged me in ways I didn't know I needed to be challenged and I am forever grateful. If you are considering studying abroad but you're scared or unsure, just do it. Know that it is not all sunshine, traveling every weekend, and going out every night. There will be a lot of hard work, loneliness, and adjustment, but I promise you will be better for it.

Here are some of my absolute favorite memories from both of my semesters abroad:

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