Every rising junior is forced to make the fateful decision of whether or not to study abroad. At the time, it seems there are infinite factors to consider. On campus, you have clubs and organizations that you are working your way up in, friends who swear they are staying and majors with required classes. And sometimes, for some, the allure of getting Penn credit for easy classes while drinking every night and jetsetting on weekends isn’t enough to pull them away from Philly. I was one of those people.
There are plenty of ways to avoid the hurt of missing all of your friends’ expeditions overseas. For one, keeping in close contact only makes the pain worse. Sure, I miss you, but no, I don’t want to know that your classes meet only once a week for an hour and have 150–word papers as finals.
The worst are the weekly email updates. At first, they are sweet and refreshing to hear, and you even appreciate the pictures they attach. Australia really is beautiful! But as the weather turns cold in Philly, those emails begin to read as more and more boastful passive aggression. Good for you and your weekend in Thailand. The elephant in the picture is ugly anyway.
Beyond this, I committed another cardinal sin: visiting my friends abroad. London seemed to be an easy getaway over the five–day fall break. At the beginning of the summer, tickets were reasonably priced and staying with friends meant that I’d have no further travel expenses. Might as well, right?
London was heartbreakingly perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I couldn’t care about the consistently grey sky and the poor exchange rate. All I saw were the fun opportunities that I could be having for months, not just days. Pubs and bars liked me for me. They didn’t need me to be older or ask that I fake an identity to get in before they mockingly refuse me at the door. I was accepted.
I loved this land where the Underground is a satisfactory (read: fairly clean, timely and efficient) mode of transportation. The streets were clean and showcased a beautiful history, showcasing architecture that we appreciate in our few square blocks of Old City. And the best part: all the people sound intelligent. That elitist accent of theirs made everything seem eloquent. I was instantly hooked.
Disappointingly, my love affair with this foreign city was cut unceremoniously short. Packed up and shipped home on a seemingly endless eight–hour flight, I felt rejected by this alternate life. In the end, I guess it’s my own fault. I’m the one who didn’t choose it. For now, I’ll be waiting for the lights to go up on Locust and for my friends to come home. I don’t even like beer — I’m looking at you, Oktoberfest.
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