This is Katrina's last post as an official CAPA blogger. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us this semester, Katrina. We wish you all the best!
After a long flight, delayed connection and exhausting layover, I finally arrived home to Traverse City, Michigan at midnight EST, 5am London time. Even my exhaustion after being awake for nearly 24 hours didn’t faze me; I was so happy to be home! My parents and boyfriend greeted me at the airport. Tiny little Traverse City was a huge change from the massive Heathrow terminal where I’d began my day. There was snow falling from the chilly sky to welcome me home.
It felt kind of surreal being home at first. All of the familiar sights looked just a little different to me. The thing I’d been most looking forward to was flopping down in my own bed (it didn’t disappoint). I experienced a little trouble sleeping the first night, despite my best efforts to sleep in (my body couldn’t sleep into the “afternoon”).
I have yet to experience any sort of “reverse culture shock,” which I think may be due to the fact that so much of the CAPA program surrounds students with other Americans (I think that’s what made it such an easy adjustment going to the UK as well). The thing I did experience a lot of was saying, “xyz is different in the UK” or “that’s not how things were in London.” While I didn’t experience any problems readjusting, I am definitely aware of how some things function differently in America vs. London. While neither is “right” or “wrong” it was interesting to see how simple daily things are done differently (service styles while eating out, for example) and I am always eager to point out these differences, even when my companions largely don’t care. My dad jokingly said he was going to start counting how many times I said “the UK” (it was more than I’d like to admit).
Even though London is always on my mind and I frequently insert it into simple conversations, I didn’t think it would be so hard to answer the question, “How was London?”. Some of my favorite experiences were the trips I was able to take, but I feel like answering that question with talk of places outside of London discounts the amazing time I had within the city each day. I find it really difficult to adequately explain the depth of my experience in a short conversation with family members or friends (especially those I don’t see frequently... which during the holidays is a lot). I feel like I could clearly and concisely convey the benefits of studying abroad on my academics or professional development, but when it comes to explaining the impact the city had on me as a person, I’m at loss for words.
Living in London made me become more independent and confident in myself and my abilities. My experiences made me more willing to try new things and see things from a new point of view. There are so many little examples of how London has helped me grow as an individual, and I feel like I owe the experience so much more than “London was good,” to a relative I haven’t seen in a while. But despite this difficulty, I think my friends and family can observe the ways living in London helped me grow and for that, I will always be grateful.
Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the slower pace of life in Northern Michigan. I can’t wait to curl up on the couch with a good book for the first time in ages, or drink cocoa with my little brother. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and I think a recharge during the most wonderful time of the year is exactly what I need after an overwhelming, amazing, busy, challenging, and rewarding experience in London.
Thank you all for following along this semester.