How strange it is to be back in the English-speaking world! The past five weeks on the continent have been a whirlwind of fun. I’ve experienced so much new life in different languages, meals, and sights!
We have such little time left abroad and I cannot help but feel that I am ready to go home. The transition back into England feels like a very natural ending to the past three months, and it’s been a bittersweet few days. My weary body obviously wants to make it back to America (and hibernate for the winter), but I know I’ll be desperate to find ways to return to Europe again.
Luckily, my studies have come to a close now and I’m allowed to see the world of England as a modern, thriving city instead of focusing on the Medieval. These past three days in London, my friends and I spent a long time walking through Hyde park in the rain – typical London – and sightseeing around the city, venturing to Buckingham Palace. We did our best to fill in the last quintessential activities we felt we must do before heading back to America (including eating fish and chips a final time!) Our last academic trip on the 25th was to the National Gallery, exactly one month later from our first academic day in Paris. What a month!
As a group, we also visited the Houses of Parliament, and a huge grin split my face when I saw Big Ben for the first time. I’m not terribly knowledgable nor interested in foreign politics, but I think my interest in British history served me well enough to be able to fully enjoy the tour. It was very impressive to be standing in the room that the Queen stands in, and to be in the debate rooms where very important decisions are made.
Our afternoon was full of packing and last-minute shopping trips and meetings to wrap up the semester. The last night abroad ended with a trip to the English National Opera to watch a performance of The Marriage of Figaro, followed up by a final group dinner at a very elite location. When we finally made it back to our hotel well past midnight, I was sleepy, full, and contented. It’s hard to articulate the simultaneous satisfaction at having the semester close, and also the bittersweet ache in my chest that reminds me I will never experience life like this in the same manner. Though I yearn to come home and share my presents and my pictures and my stories with all of my family and friends, I also cannot picture returning to a life of stillness after I’ve been running around Europe for so long.
I am sure that this is not the last farewell I will say to Europe. I know in my heart that I will return again…