In her final post, Genevieve sees the silver lining in finishing her semester in London. After studying abroad for several months, the city is now a part of her. She talks through taking time to say goodbyes, making one last round to all her favorite spots, and how she's easing into life back home in the US.
Three months ago, I stood at the top of the escalator in the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, pausing to hug my parents goodbye. I was walking into a new reality, one of busy days, fast underground trains, and the most self-discovery I have ever undertaken. Three days ago, I stood on that same airport escalator, this time going down to my parents waiting on the ground floor. I saw them before they saw me, or rather I saw them before they recognized me. That’s right, my own parents didn’t recognize me—probably because I have much darker hair now and was wearing a different color than they thought I was. But that doesn’t change the fact that they stared at me for a full 30 seconds before they realized it was me.
Final views of the cloudy UK sky.
I don’t blame my parents for not recognizing me, because not only do I look different, but I feel different. My time in London has irreversibly formed a part of me. It has changed who I am and who I long to be. It changed how I view being alone and how I define community. London is a part of me now.
Quality time is crucial for good goodbyes.
Last week, my last in London was undeniably one of the best weeks of my whole experience. I had time to go to my favorite places and say goodbye. Time to make last memories with my roommates, friends from church, and friends from CAPA. The city was never more open nor more comfortable than now. I visited each favorite place, from Covent Garden to a nighttime walk across the Hungerford bridge and down South Bank one last time. This time was invaluable. It allowed me to recognize that this semester meant something to me. To say that this place had come to mean something more than a kinetic city.
Fancy desserts make goodbye feel a little better.
London was the place that taught me that talking to strangers can be fun, but so can being silent. It taught me that the best things in a city are often unseen by the hurried. It taught me that comedy is present wherever there is life—like the pigeons that would ride the tube at only one station. I needed last week to say goodbye.
My last tube ride was filled with so many memories.
Anyone who has grown up in a community that is constantly in transition has probably learned the importance of saying goodbye in order to have closure. I learned that when I was very young. I also saw how important it was for me when I left Budapest for college. So, I knew how to say goodbye to London, and I did. But now I am back home, did my saying goodbye actually provide me with the closure I desired? I think so, but it didn’t take away the sting. Leaving this city still hurts, even if I was ready for it. That last night with my roommates was still the last night, no matter how ready I was for it. I still woke up the next morning with them gone.
Last minute touristing isn’t as embarrassing when you are about to leave.
On my first night back home, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep. It was too quiet. My parents’ house is in the woods, and the silence of the trees was too loud. I’ve woken up every night since being back. But it’s getting easier to fall back asleep. You see, I still long for London, but it’s getting easier to be here. Life is exactly where I am.
The peace of the woods isn’t a bad change.
I know that I am different than I was when I left. I am surer of myself. I am more confident in what I like and don’t like. I am excited for what my future holds since I have seen what it could look like. I miss where I was in London, but I have the basis to move forward. And who knows, maybe a year will see me there again.
Genevieve Rice is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An English Literature major at Anderson University, she is studying abroad in London this semester.
See more of Genevieve's journey in London.