Here it is. I’ve been home for a little less than a month now and I’m finally ready to put into words (as best as I can) my feelings on my year abroad. Firstly- I’d like to thank everyone that read my blog this year. I hope I’ve been informative and haven’t rambled too much. 🙂
Oxford- There aren’t enough words to justly describe the kind of experience you gave me. I arrived nervous, recovering from surgery, chickening out of joining football, all the while attempting to tackle an entirely new teaching style. I was excited and eager to arrive, but I was terrified. I wasn’t confident that I could teach myself material and write 1-2 essays a week. I wasn’t confident that I’d make friends and mingle with British kids. I wasn’t confident I’d even be happy.
I was so, so wrong. Mansfield, you welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to try new things. Each and every one of you at Mansfield make the college what it is- the most incredibly special place on earth. I have never felt quite as accepted and loved in my life. I gained confidence in myself as an athlete, something I hadn’t felt since my first year of high school. I learned that I could (shockingly!) handle the academic system and persevere through challenges, even beginning my own novel, which has now become my senior thesis. I met and made some of the most amazing friends I know I will cherish for a lifetime.
My last few days at Oxford were painful. I broke into crying fits and found myself breaking down at the top floor of my final “Wahoo” that Friday night as I watched each Mansfielder dance and sing together. I realized how devastating it would be to leave such a special place. I know I can come back. I know Oxford will be there for years to come. But in this context, with these people… I won’t get that again. And that broke—and still breaks—my heart.
Being home has been a weird transition. I’ve absolutely loved seeing all my friends but I’ve realized I’m homesick—but in a different way; this time it’s for Oxford. And I know that’s something I will feel for awhile. But I am so grateful to have been able to take advantage of this unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am a better, stronger, more open, and cultured person. I have new friendships and I have been apart of an irreplaceable community. I will take a piece of that with me everywhere I go, for the rest of my life. This year has made me excited for everything life has to offer.
Memory works in interesting ways. It sometimes glorifies things, sequencing together your favorite moments from certain experiences into a film of sorts. It rolls in slow-motion through your mind. Sometimes it deceives you. But my memory footage of Oxford is not deceptive. I know that the sequence of images, of tiny moments, of laughter, of events, of people— they are real, and will remain so forever.
Mansfield, I love you. I’ll never forget this year.