It’s exceptionally bizarre to think that, come tomorrow, I can lay in bed and not go anywhere, or do anything. Come tonight, actually – we’re sitting in Heathrow airport right now, and where this entire trip has been nothing but chatting and giggling and intermittent, excited conversation, now there lingers a sort of moroseness over everyone. Last night, we went out as a group, even those of us who don’t really find the party scene particularly intriguing, to celebrate the last night of a trip that – not to sound corny – changed our lives.
For me, the trip taught me something exceptionally invaluable; I am capable of more than my illness tricks me into believing. When I first signed up for the study abroad trip way back last semester, it was with a sort of terror-tainted trepidation – I wanted, badly, to challenge my personal limitations and try to overcome the hesitance, anxiety and fear that kept me locked in my bedroom for the better part of the last few years. Happily, I can say I did just that; I spent every day socializing, leaving my phone – and my digital support network of friends from across several countries – alone save to take pictures required for the projects we have to do on our return, going out and connecting with the people that we went on this trip with and just going out in general, all of which is very foreign for me. Though the last day left me totally overwhelmed and in desperate need of alone time to recharge, the idea that this trip is over hasn’t fully hit me. Despite how hectic it was these last nine days – running across all of London, trying to cram as many sights and as much history and intrigue as we could into every day – coming to a sudden standstill, and being away from the new friends I made is a bizarre thought. Going home to America is an even worse thought.
I wanted to say something at our last dinner that I couldn’t quite get out; the thought of drawing attention to myself in such a selfish way when everyone was riding on a high of great humor and camaraderie felt in exceptionally poor taste, but to those of my fellow students who happen to see this blog post – thank you. You made the last nine days amazing for me. For the first time in a long time I felt loved and welcomed in a group of people, despite how odd and sort of introverted I can tend to be. You never failed to extend an invitation to every event you attended, and even though I was often silent or failed to turn up, just being asked and invited was massively important to me. You all reminded me of the value of having people, real, physically present people, in my life who can listen and converse and share ideas and craft their own microcosm of humor. This past semester was the worst one I’ve ever experienced; there were more than a handful decisive moments that might have made going on this trip impossible. The thought of this trip, at times, was all that kept me going, in a hope that sometimes felt vain (for no fault of your own, not a single one of you was a person I dreaded to spend time with, but a mental illness does funny things to your senses, most of all your sense of foresight) that this trip would be enjoyable and able to kick start some positive change in my life. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for blowing away my expectation by being kind, caring, supportive, and overall brilliant for every moment of this trip, from start to end.
Cheers to you, London Study Abroad Group, 2017 – Cheers, Lab 103, and Cheers 515! Until we meet again next semester,