Home Sweet Home

My final week abroad was a blur. I tried to spend as much time walking around and enjoying Cambridge as I could. The weekend previous I was in London, which is a loud and crazy city filled with tourists and history. I spent most of my time there shopping, which my wardrobe thanks me for, but my bank account does not. I spent a lot of money abroad, I  mean, a lot. More than I expected. I like to shop, I like to eat, I like to spend money, and I have a passion for fashion, baby. So when I’m placed in a city like London, I lacked some impulse control. Stores like Zara, Primark, Topshop, and Selfridges had me ensnared. Speaking of Selfridges, my new bestie Shereen celebrated her birthday in London. I booked us a table for brunch on Selfridges rooftop gardens restaurant and bar. It was beautiful and the food was delicious. It was a lovely start to our time in London.

We ended that evening by renting a private room for her birthday party in a Karaoke bar. Singing in an underground karaoke club with people I had only met three weeks prior, laughing and dancing, and just being loud Americans was one of the most magical parts of my trip. It was something I had never foresaw happening during my time abroad, but now its a precious memory that I’ll never forget.

Besides shopping, eating, and dancing in London, I did engage in the history and arts of the city. I visited the Tate Modern art museum which had the coolest installation by Louise Bourgeois. It was a giant metal spider with fabric bodies hanging from the ceiling. I loved it. I also saw Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew at The Globe Theatre which was AMAZING. The director took an otherwise misogynistic play and turned it into a feminist statement. I loved this as well. London was overall, a great adventure.

Back in Cambridge my fellow classmates and I worked hard on our final papers and in between time spent doing research and writing, I managed to visit Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden. I walked there and back to take in the city and the old magic of it. The botanic garden had gorgeous greenhouses or “glasshouses” as they called them. Wandering around them and the lavender gardens was an afternoon well spent.

On one of my final nights in Cambridge I was walking though the town and just marveling at the old college that stood around me, the old chapels, and stones. I had this strange thought go through my head, “I’m in England.” It was weird because I had been in England for three weeks. I had visited France, and many places all around the UK, and yet I hadn’t felt grounded until that moment, under the stars alone with the old buildings and the quiet town. My time abroad was not easy. I had feelings of homesickness, culture shock, and debt. I had gotten lost too many times to count, dealt with less than ideal living conditions, worked through language barriers, and spent a lot of time with people I had only just met.

But it was all worth it. I visited places I never thought I would go, saw things I never thought I would see. I made connections with people of different cultures than me, and I learned so, so much. Best of all, I made 14 new friends through the UF in Cambridge program. Things could have been easier, sure, but it was all part of the adventure. I’ll always remember Brennan asking me how to order orange juice in French, and shopping for macaroons with Shereen. I’ll remember lying on the steps on the Pantheon and looking up the sky I swear is bluer in Europe. I’ll remember Charlie telling jokes that take fifteen minutes to get to the punch line as we all walked home from dinner, and Ethan posing next to the bones in Catacombs like he was an archeologist at a dig. I’ll remember lying in the grass on the soccer field behind our dorms in Cambridge, talking about waterbeds, what we want to name our kids. I won’t remember every bus ride, every trip through the underground, every time I looked down at my phone’s map and realized I had made the wrong turn, but I’ll remember the people who were with me. Laughing, talking, arguing about politics, sipping tea and taking pictures.

I am beyond grateful for the chance to study abroad and all of the memories I collected and the friends I made. Thank you to everyone who was there by my side, and everyone who was supporting me at home. As I begin my final year of college, I feel ready for anything that will be thrown my way. I mean, if I can survive British cuisine I can survive anything, right?

 

Best,

Shanna.

 

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