I didn’t want to admit it out loud, but about a week into December, I felt like I was ready to go home. I missed my family and my friends and my bedroom and having a kitchen and my hometown at Christmas. I loved it in California and I was going to miss it so much, but I couldn’t help missing home and I found myself spending my spare time watching British comedy shows on Netflix. I never used to be the type to get homesick because I love travelling and exploring, but the more time I’ve had away from home over the past two years, the more I’ve fallen in love with everything home offers, and by the time I got on the plane, I was so ready to be there again and to reflect on all of the amazing I’ve experienced in the last 4 months. It wasn’t until the day before my flight (I finished my Finals just the evening before) that it really hit me that I was leaving, my roommate wasn’t going to be my roommate anymore and I wouldn’t be taking the familiar walk to my classes anymore. Hollywood wouldn’t be just an hour away by car anymore, but what really hit me most was the friends I wasn’t going to see every day anymore.
We probably romanticise things a bit more when we aren’t there. In California, I idealised the way British people make tea, Dairy Milk chocolate, being able to dress cosily in winter and the possibility of snow at Christmas time. Since coming back to England, the tea and chocolate are just as good as I remember, but I guess I made myself forget that we haven’t actually had a white Christmas since I was an age I can barely remember. And when I started to find myself upset about leaving California, I probably made myself forget a little bit about the small problems that come with having a roommate and sharing a single bathroom between seven girls, not having a kitchen, and the stress that came with constant tests and Midterms and Finals.
It was a truly amazing experience, but just as Study Abroad is meant to be, it was temporary, and I’m sure there are countless more ahead, with all their own unique ups and downs. It was always meant to be one of those moments in life, perfect because they can never be relived quite the same, but always in your memory and always there to remind you of everything you learnt to take you into the next unknown adventures. (I’m sorry I’m so cheesy). And what’s really important is savouring the ups and downs of where you are now, instead of longing for the one you don’t have right now.
Even after leaving, there are still loads of things I want to see and do in California that I didn’t find time for, due to Finals and wanting to spend Christmas with my family, but it’s been a different kind of experience living and studying in California as opposed to being on holiday and I’m grateful for everything extra that I did get to do in the time I had. Experiencing California in this way was something I’d never have got to do without Study Abroad. Everything I’ve missed tourist-wise will just get to be a fresh new thing to experience when I do a US trip on a very long tourist Visa.