I’m home, Christmas break is over, and my first week of classes back at Oregon State is almost over too. Being abroad already feels a little bit distant, which makes me sad, but being home is so so good. This post may be a bit late since it’s been a few weeks since I arrived home, but I didn’t quite feel ready to write on my blog the last time for a while! Although I wanted to write something to wrap everything up, I hate the way this post makes it feel more final as well.
I’m basically a big bundle of paradoxes. I love home but hate that it means I’m not in Nottingham (which I’ve found myself calling ‘home’ more than a few times). I love telling people about everything I got to experience but I hate the feeling of sadness when I realize it’s in the past. I miss all my friends from Nottingham so much, but it doesn’t make me any less happy to be here with my other friends and family. Luckily (sort of), I’m already so busy with classes that I don’t have as much time to be sad.
People keep asking if it’s weird being home, and I really can’t describe the feeling well. Wilsonville and Corvallis feel so familiar and friendly, it’s been so easy to hop right back into my life here. What makes that feeling so weird, though, is that nothing really has changed… not that I expected it to, but it hit me hard when I came back that no one else’s lives would’ve been that different had I been here instead of Nottingham. That sounds really pessimistic and I know my friends missed me, but it was just such a personal experience that I have to remember not everyone else changed and grew like I did or got to make the same amazing memories. Another weird part about that is realizing everyone at Nottingham is going back to Uni and continuing doing what we were doing before, just without me. I know it’s going to be really hard for me when I see them starting again Monday. It felt at first like I was just going on winter break like they were, because all my friends were apart anyway, and of course I’m moving back into Florence Boot on the 16th… little do they know, we don’t have school the 16th here because of MLK Jr. Day. It’s strange thinking that going to Nottingham was such an amazing experience for me, but just their normal lives.
I also hope I’m not just remembered as ‘that American girl who was here for a term’ or something. It sounds a little conceited to say I hope people really miss me, but in reality, I’d like to think I had an impact on some people’s lives even if it was just making fun memories. It’s hard and sad trying to stay in touch when we don’t know how long it will be until we see each other again, but Nottingham people: I will be back. I guarantee it.
This post is a little emotional and might not really be interesting for anyone to read at all, so sorry about that. I’ve kinda been surprised at the number of people who read these posts at all though, so if you are reading it, thank you! It’s be really fun to record and share all my memories with other people, knowing I’ll be able to look back on these posts later.
I don’t have tons of great pictures like normal (is that too bold to call my own pictures great? I’m pretty biased but I really think some of them are.), but I did take a few on the plane ride home just for fun. It was really, really sad seeing England below us as the plane lifted off, knowing it would be the last time I saw those little stone walls in green pastures and small towns with cathedrals in the center for a long time. But after I got over being sad for a bit and started getting excited about going home (and watched The Avengers: Civil War and Secret Life of Pets to distract myself), the plane ride to Seattle from Heathrow wasn’t as horrible as I anticipated. The horrible part was the five hour layover and three hour delay in Seattle. Yes. Seattle. A 45 minute plane ride from home or three hour drive. It was just silly. But, the views from the long plane ride were really pretty and so diverse which was great.
The great thing about being in America was how speedy passport control was! I didn’t have to wait in the really slow line for non-EU! Also, after the longest day of traveling ever, (train to London from Harpenden, tube to Heathrow, 10 hour plane to Seattle, eight hours of waiting, 45 minute plane to Portland) it was wonderful to see that famous PDX carpet and all my favorite people after so long. Also, I didn’t realize how bad the beds in Nottingham and all the hotels were until I got to sleep in my amazing bed at home.
There are so many great things about being home- I love seeing friends and family and my dog, my house in Corvallis, doing math and science again (yeah weird I know), and familiarity to name a few. There are also SO many things that I miss about England and traveling- I’ve already made lists of that though so I won’t go through it again, but right about now I’m really wishing I didn’t have to eat my last pack of dark chocolate digestives so slowly but could just run to Spar and grab a pack for a pound or so. The good thing is, though-and I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again- I will go back soon. As soon as it’s possible for me to. I want to travel more, I want to explore more, I want to see the world… and simply spend more time in England, the place that I love.
I won’t go into more emotional details about how I feel about things, because I’ve probably already elaborated on that enough, but I just feel so blessed for all the ways God has worked for me and through me these last four months. I will never be able to be thankful enough for all He’s given me, the ways He’s changed me, and how He’s opened my eyes to His love for us. Last year, at this time, I didn’t even know I was going to be studying abroad yet, and then I went on to have one of the most crazy, challenging, amazing years ever… if you can believe it, studying abroad was only part of that! I have so much hope for this year and my future after seeing how God provides for us and wants us to have abundant lives, full of Him and full of adventure.
My last physical ties to Nottingham (other than all my amazing friends and memories obviously,) is the final I have coming in a week, and the one gift for a friend I can’t bring myself to give them yet. After the final and all my grades, I’ll officially be done as a student at U of N, and after I give away the last gift that I bought, I can delete the list of souvenirs on my phone I’ve been collecting for so long because it’s all over. I know that’s really pessimistic again, but these things are sad.
Not to be cheesy (although I’ve done that a lot already), but even if it will technically be all over, it really won’t be. All the pictures, all the memories, all the souvenirs, all the friends I made, all the things I learned, all the ways I changed… they’re definitely, definitely not over.
I’ll end with a verse I may have used before, I don’t remember, but is one of my all time favorites and one I heard over and over in Nottingham (so it must be important!).
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10