I'm pretty sure it was around this time last year I was moving into my room at UEA as an exchange student. God, I was such a mess over there -- eating mostly (only?) canned fruit, struggling as the only student in my Chaucer class who didn't take Medieval literature (and therefore didn't know what she was reading), wandering aimlessly on busses and around downtown Norwich kind of sums up my first week there. I remember so many of my friends back home telling me how scared they'd be if they had to go to a country all by themselves for three months, but it's really not that bad; you just need to put yourself out there and hope you don't wind up mugged or dead (or stalked?). I mean, if the worst thing is someone thinks you're weird (instead of hilarious, since you know you are) when you're taking a risk in meeting people, then yes, England would have been a much scarier place to be.
October was the month of people telling me how not dangerous England was. At first, I didn't want to travel anywhere by myself, but then my flatmates reasoned, "Well you're already in a country by yourself, you might as well travel a train ride trip by yourself." So I did, and in case you didn't remember, a lot of things went wrong but through divine intervention or incredible luck, I came back unscathed. Multiple times.
I really miss England sometimes, but I am aware that I miss the lifestyle just a little more. It was the first time I was on my own, with time to read and enjoy the reading material (when I say reading material, I really mean the Gothic Literature class assignments, not Chaucer) and the money to travel, eat, shop, and party. Don't get me wrong, I was totally broke when I got back for Spring semester '10, but when I was in England, I was financially comfortable...and I had to be since I was not allowed to get a job while I was there. :P
Getting on a train or bus and go whenever, wherever I could afford is such a distant memory now.
There are times when I think about what would have happened if I had been a regular American student at UEA like Philly -- I don't think I would have acted the same. I knew of my time constraint in England, so I was more bold, spontaneous, and outrageous than I usually am. There's only four or five people I'll probably ever see again in my lifetime so if the snotty San Fransisco hippy in my poetry class disapproves of my poem, what do I care?
Since I'll never be that free or financially comfortable again in my life, I would have to say travelling abroad to UEA was one of the best things I've ever done in my young adult life (possibly life, I haven't lived that long yet). If I ever had the opportunity to go to England and visit my friends at UEA again, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Maybe I'll just move to England after college. I'd just have to do a lot a lot of work to do that, a lot more than I did to be an exchange student there. Like, step one, get permission to have a job there...