After returning from Switzerland I was faced with hard reality
and a wake-up call. I had two weeks left and so much to do! I spent two full days writing papers, and cranked them out in A+ form. I started working out like a mad woman – jogging through Kensington Gardens every day after class. One day
I came home to find a care package from my boyfriend Tom, with gifts, letters and pictures – (this conveniently made me more excited than ever to see him). I said goodbye’s to my professors, popping sparkling champaign with my English
professor and getting drunk in the last class; and had a “Secret Santa” party amongst our flat mates. We Americans wanted to leave London in style, so on one of our last nights we rented a pimped out party bus which took us all around London for over three hours – stopping at our favorite spots for pictures and toasts to our time spent together.
Next came the dreaded Finals week which every college student must experience, even when 3,000 miles away from campus. Two massive Globalization essays and four exams later (all in 3 days), I was done! When I left my last exam, walking to the tube in the rain, massaging my aching wrist from all the writing, I felt exuberant knowing I was halfway done with my final year of College.
I spent that night packing, squeezing in some last-chance bonding time with what were now close friends, and holding in my growing anticipation of returning to the land of the free. Our group said final goodbyes with a drunken private party at our favorite Notting Hill bar, ‘Tex Mex’. One by one my fellow travelers made their way home. I was the last to leave. My last day in London_ the bustling, adventurous, extraordinary city I called home the past four months, was Friday, December 19th, 2008.
After buying souvenirs and saying my final and tearful goodbye to my friend Cat, I dressed my best and hauled my luggage to Heathrow Airport. My emotions were completely scattered, though I was mostly excited… I had barely slept the night before. It seemed like just the other day I was arriving at that very spot, completely unaware of what was to follow. Looking back, there isn’t a thing I would change. I can say with confidence that I learned more in those four months than I ever had. I was thrown into unfamiliar situations and tackled them solo, made genuine friendships with people very different from myself, experienced eclectic cultures and destinations completely new, and fell deeply in love with travel. It is a chapter in my life I will never forget.
My flight home was long and exciting. As I felt the wheels of the plane touch down on American soil in Chicago, my heart was racing. After surviving baggage claim, I finally saw my Tom, greeting me with a dozen red roses. We shared a kiss that said it all, and as he picked up my suitcase and we walked out the door hand in hand, I felt overwhelming comfort in being taken care of again.
I knew I was home…