Nobody tells you how scary it is before you actually study abroad. It’s such an exciting adventure, woohoo. Once you make that deposit, that commitment, there’s no going back. Now, you have to pack and be smart about your surroundings. I have not left my house for so long. No, I do not live under a rock and obviously I go to school, work, and other extracurricular activities. However, I have never been on my own since 5th grade when we had a camping trip with my whole class one weekend. Even that doesn’t count, let’s be honest.
I took this chance without even checking with any of my friends if they were willing to take the leap with me. None of them had the time or money to do it. Thus the cherry on top, I was going to study abroad at University of Cambridge with a group of people I’ve never met. Sure, we had a few meetings beforehand and a few classes too. Unfortunately, the tension and discomfort was still overwhelming for all. To my surprise, three out of the twenty-eight people who were going knew each other. We were all on the same boat.
July 2nd- departure day. My boyfriend and I get to LAX, and I leave with a worried, heavy heart. I get through security and we do not board the plane for another hour or two. At that moment, it was as if a light bulb turned on for everybody. We were all doing this together, it’s time to REALLY get to know each other.
Cambridge is amazing. The scenery can make you stop what you’re doing and lure you to enjoy things you forget about everyday in California. There is more green than urban life. The livestock grazing in fields is astounding. Even the rain was so welcoming and delightful to be caught in. The best part? Getting to share those moments with my fellow classmates. We all knew we were experiencing something special together.
We stayed in flats at a complex called, Cromwell Court. The school we attended at Cambridge was named, Sidney Sussex College. Then our classroom was known as the Coach House. All three of these places, will always have a special place in my heart. I’d wake up in my own flat to go downstairs to wait for my friends in the central part of Cromwell Court. We would head to Sidney Sussex to either eat in the mess hall or use it as a short cut to grab some take-away from the local eateries. Later, we would walk through Jesus Green (one of the biggest and most unbelievable parks I’ve ever seen) to make it to Coach House in time for class. It was a spectacular time.
I was able to travel to London, Paris, and Amsterdam. When you take the first step to travel outside of your country, you kind of get the hang of doing it. You feel like a real adult and a lil’ adventurer. London wasn’t my favorite, but the history of it is incredible. Then, Paris definitely kept you on your toes since pick-pockets creep on the streets wherever you are, but it does not discredit the beautiful culture of this place. The food was fantastic (Croque Madame is a must), the Louvre contained breathtaking pieces I was so excited to appreciate (“The Raft of Medusa”, “The Olympia”, “Mona Lisa”, etc.), and the historical sights were so grand and beautiful in scale (Eiffel Tower & The Notre Dame). As for Amsterdam, it had to be my absolute favorite so that needs to be separate from this blog post for I have too much to say about it. The transportation all around in Europe is so much more convenient and better for the environment. I envy that my country hasn’t transitioned to using bikes, trams, trains, and buses as often as they do. The produce and everything seems to have the sole purpose of benefiting the citizens. Their lifestyle, I wish I can be part of it for the rest of my life. I really would love to move to Europe. Specifically, Amsterdam would be a great place to live.
By the end of this trip, the different countries were not the only things that enriched who I am. There were the people who were with me. There were those who challenged my patience, and I learned there were some battles worth fighting and some worth letting go. I learned people you think were certain ways were completely not what they appear, and people who seem to have dispositions have a past that influences their being. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me appreciate who I was. They inspired me to be more than the titles I have back at home. My creative side seemed to return with a will to not give up what I love to do most. I ended up writing a poem about every single one of them because they made that much of an impact on my life. Now that I am back, it is pretty obvious it won’t be the same. Luckily, my memories will never change because nothing in my life can make me see this experience as less than happy, ever.