Cultural Experience | London

The Thought of Leaving London is Scarier than the Thought of Coming Here Ever Was.

The bittersweet return home from study abroad

By Emma White, Syracuse University

I can remember the week up until I was leaving for my study abroad experience in London like it was yesterday. Countless trips to Target, arguing with my mom because yes I do need to bring all of these sweaters and saying goodbye to friends and family with a “well, see you in 3 months” kind of goodbye. It was the most exciting and nervous time, finding a place to live in a foreign country, living with all new people and traveling to places I could have never imagined. However, these last two weeks before leaving for home have already been a blur. Between my family coming for Thanksgiving (and by Thanksgiving I mean seeing the show Book of Mormon and going out for Indian food telling each other what we were thankful for over naan and various curries) and finals, the days leading up until the final plane ride of the semester are flying by.

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My Mom and I in London

The best way to describe this last leg of study abroad is crunch time. Not only are you finishing up traveling to other places, you’re finishing up that list you had in your head when you left of things you just HAD to do. For me, I waited for my mom to visit to do some of the big stuff (family vacations on her credit card? yes please) like the London Eye, Tower of London and eating things other than hummus and cereal. So once you finish that imaginary list in your head, move onto the list of things in your head that you need to bring back for people. Mugs, shot glasses, double decker bus ornament, oh and tea of course, this is London after all. The list goes on and on. THEN, finals. Yes maybe I was delusional in thinking that just because I was abroad that I wouldn’t have finals but I honestly thought I would have something along the lines of an open note test or a presentation or maybe, MAYBE a 2-3 page paper.. not the case. If you’re going to give real finals at least give us a week in the very end to enjoy our study abroad city and I don’t know, pack! Instead, our last memory of the city will be cramming for a test let’s just face it, no one really cares about. And yeah, let’s talk about packing for a hot sec.. I think a miracle would have to occur for me to get all of my stuff back home in the same amount of bags I brought here. So yes, what I’m saying is my bag count will probably be 5, not 4.

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How do I fit this guy in my suitcase?!

The past few days leading up to my final departure home have been a whirlwind of emotions. The thought of leaving London and going home is extremely bittersweet. Will tears probably stream down my face when I get a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee for the first time in three months? Yes. Will my first stop (maybe even before home) be Panera for some broccoli and cheddar soup? Yes. Will I revel in the fact that I can get places with extreme convenience and ease by driving? Yes.  However, will I miss London? Absolutely. The top things I will miss about London? 10 doesn’t even cut it.

1. Being enriched in new cultures, foods and ideas.

2. Always having something to do or places to see.

3. Never having an excuse to say “I’m bored”.

4. Having access to all of London via the tube Underground system.

5. Grabbing a Costa coffee and having their holiday cups blow Starbucks holiday cups out of the water.

Costa Gingerbread coffee cups

Costa Gingerbread coffee cups

6. Hearing street performers sing The Beatles.

7. Having people tell me they like my accent (shocking, I know).

8. Being able to legally grab a drink after class… or before at a local pub.

9. Needing no excuse whatsoever to go to High Tea.

10. The cookies, “Digestives”, trust me on this one!

It’s nerve-wracking to think that instead of going to different countries on the weekends next semester I will be at a frat parties. Somehow the idea of a parking lot party just doesn’t sound quite as appealing. Like I said, this last week is an emotional roller coaster. I am forever grateful to London for this experience and am already dreading the “post culture shock” of being back in America. Studying abroad in London has been a crazy, whirlwind adventure I will never forget. I have gained so much from these past three and a half months and will always consider myself somewhat of a Londoner at heart. However, I think my bank account is ready for my switch back to the dollar. Like they say, there’s no place like home.

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See you soon Syracuse!


Emma White

Syracuse University | 10 stories

Emma is a junior studying at Syracuse University and a true Bostonian at heart. She will be spending her fall semester studying in London where she can't wait to immerse herself in the London culture and take that attitude wherever she goes. Lover of dogs, laughing and The Office.

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