It was 4 AM when I stood with two of the best friends I’d made abroad and said goodbye to Queen Mary.
We’d stayed up all night, blasting Carly Rae and jumping around Flat 19 like we were at a middle school dance. Early morning fog mingled with the dim lights around campus, making for a somber scene. My Uber arrived too quickly.
I didn’t feel eager to return home. I wasn’t excited to have US-sized portions again, or to devour the green chile that my home state is famous for. I didn’t even look forward to reuniting with my rescue dog. (Sorry, Waylon.)
All I wanted was more time: another day, another week, preferably another semester, with the friends I’d made in the place that never let me feel bored. Sure, I’ve still got two more years of college, in a city that’s not exactly short on entertainment. But there’s no Regent’s Canal in LA, no hipsters barbecuing on the roofs of vibrantly painted houseboats. There’s not a Spoons or a Nando’s, and of course there’s no Dixie Chicken. Perhaps worst of all, there’s no 205 bus on which you share chips with strangers after a night out.
That last Uber ride took me past Brick Lane and the East London Mosque, past the Indian restaurant where I shared a curry dinner with my flatmates, and the brunch spot in Shoreditch that doubles as a Grime-heavy nightclub. Everywhere I turned, there was a familiar sight I wouldn’t be returning to any time soon. And I, someone who remained dry-eyed at the end of “The Fault in Our Stars,” shed a couple tears in that Uber.
I changed my background to a photo of the Thames, and I Facebook-message my abroad friends every day, but of course these are poor substitutes for my time in Chicken Shop Mile. And as my mother lovingly assured me, London won’t be the same when I next return. Study abroad is over, but I’m comforted in knowing that Saino’s, Beigel Bake, and Queen of Hoxton will always be there, welcoming the over-eager American back with open arms.
Will studied abroad at QMUL in Spring 2016. Will if from the University of Southern California and is majoring in Critical Studies (Cinematic Arts) and English (Creative Writing).