Alyssa Reimenschneider, Study Abroad – London

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Fall2015_Alyssa_Reimenschneider_Blogger_Profile

36,969 miles above the Atlantic Ocean, in a cramped airplane seat with strangers all around me, I realized how small I was. Over 3,000 miles from everything I’ve ever known and loved, with my feet finally on the ground in London, I never felt smaller.

When planning and anticipating my study abroad trip to London, I worried about the technicalities. I worried about packing the right clothes, having the right phone plan, making sure I could access money, getting to the airport on time, and knowing where I would be staying and studying in England. I even thought far enough ahead to worry about what transportation I would use to get back to Heathrow for my return trip to the States. I was overly worried about all the little details, but I was excited to be embarking on a new adventure in another country. I knew I would miss home, but I figured that when my plane landed in England, I would feel ecstatic and relieved that my journey was finally beginning.

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I never thought I would be so sick to my stomach that all I wanted to do was head back to the airport and fly right home. But as cowardly and childish as that sounds, and as much as I didn’t want to, that’s exactly how I felt as soon as it sunk in that yes, I was really here, and there was no going back now. Yes, it was homesickness, and I know other people experience it in some degree whenever they make a change – when they move into a college dorm for the first time or spend their first night at sleepaway camp and have never before been apart from their parents. But what I felt was complete shell shock. I couldn’t believe what I had done or why I had talked myself into it. I had no idea how I could make it on my own in a strange, new country for the next three months, let alone the next day. I had an overwhelming urge to see my family, my home, my school, even my part-time job – anything that was familiar and safe.

I wanted to be brave, but all I could do was panic.

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The next day, my first real day in the city, I did my best to set out with a hopeful outlook. I figured all I could do was start my routine, start living life in London, and hope to quell my panic with activity and excitement. I took the tube from my new home into South Kensington and the CAPA center. It was unfamiliar and intimidating, but sitting in my quiet seat in the carriage as the tube rumbled deeper into the city, I felt my first sense of comfort. The hustle and bustle of the station was jarring to my fresh unease, but the movement of the tube calmed my nerves, and I started to think that maybe I’d be ok.

My panic began to melt away when I arrived at the CAPA center to warm welcomes and when I ventured out to explore some of the city with my peers. We familiarized ourselves with Kensington, stopped for lunch at an amazing pizza place, and made our way to Hyde Park, discussing all the places we wanted to visit and the things we wanted to experience. Deep in the city, I began to feel the stirrings of excitement once again – I realized how much there is to see and do in London, and I remembered that those are the reasons I decided to travel here.

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And when I’m strolling down the Thames, watching a play at the Globe Theatre, exploring all the museums I can, or finding the courage to take the tube one stop farther, I think I’ll gain back my old confidence, little by little, and be happy that I made the choice to take this opportunity. It might be overwhelming now, and I’m sure I’ll waver between my daring and my homesickness, but my hope is that my awe of London can grow enough to overcome my fear.

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In time, I know it will.

 

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