The past couple of weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of travelling, tourism and reunions. After returning from LA and saying goodbye to my friends, I went almost immediately back down south to Orange County, to stay with a really good friend who I’d lived with in Roehampton. Megan studied abroad in London in the spring semester last year, so it was amazing to catch up with her and meet her friends, as well as reminisce about our time in London.
Visiting Megan, I finally got to have my true “The OC” experience, as she showed me all around Newport and we spent a glorious day basking in the sun and sand on beautiful beaches.
After Orange County, I flew back to San Jose for a few days, mostly to bite the bullet and say goodbye to the University, the City and my American friends. It was pretty emotional, as until this moment I think I half expected to be staying for good; that Alice and Becky would come back from a holiday in England and we’d spend the fall semester at San Jose, going to tailgates and football games, experiencing American Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately however, my third year at Roehampton is looming and all that comes with it; graduation and dissertations and final exams are shadows in the not-so-far-away future. So I said a tearful goodbye to California and flew to the final leg of my adventure.
My friend Staci is another one who I met through study abroad. Staci studied abroad at Roehampton during my first ever term at the university, and fell in love with London just as much as I did with California. I feel so lucky to have friends like Megan and Staci, who completely understand what it’s like to jump into a whole new world and love every second of it. Staci understood immediately when I said things like; “well mostly I’m sad to be leaving, but then guilty because I’m sad but equally happy and excited in an anxious kind of way.”
Which is a pretty standard emotion for anyone who has studied abroad.
Staci has been my amazing tour guide of the East side of America, specifically Philadelphia, Washington DC and, of course, New York. The East side is much more similar to England than California is, so I decided it was a good sort of transition period so that I wouldn’t be in as much shock when I returned home.
Staci and I kicked off our travels with a weekend in New York, which was absolutely amazing. We made our way around the city on foot, which is my preferred method of transport in most cities as it allows you really see how a place links up, and means you can stumble across things that you wouldn’t have seen if you just dot about on the metro. For example, there’s a beautiful English shop in Greenwich Village called Tea and Symphony, where I got unusually excited over a box of Jaffa Cakes. It has a tearoom attached, where we initiated phase one of the transition period by spending a good two hours drinking Yorkshire Tea from an Alice in Wonderland teapot.
We also frequented the usual tourist hotspots, Times Square, Rockefeller, The Empire State (to name a few). I would urge anyone visiting New York to go and see the 9/11 Ground Zero memorial. It’s absolutely beautiful and such a humbling place.
We rewarded all our exercise by visiting Broadway Bites, an international food market along Broadway which sold the most delicious street food from pretty much every country cuisine imaginable. Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich Anyone?
We followed New York with a day each in Washington DC and Philadelphia. The Capital city is a really interesting place to visit. We started out at the Capitol Building, then walked down the National Mall to the Washington Monument, then along to The White House. It was a boiling hot day, so we stopped for a few hours in the National History museum, which I would always recommend.
Philadelphia is an equally interesting place in terms of history and culture. If you go to Philly, definitely take the time to go to the Eastern State Penitentiary, and listen to the audio guides- it’s worth the money (and they do student discounts) and it’s absolutely fascinating. Philadelphia allowed me to experience phase two of my transition- greenery. Unlike New York, and even Washington, Philadelphia has acres of land dedicated to grass and parks and trees, and because it’s nowhere near as dry as California, things actually grow. It made me genuinely excited to go back to Yorkshire.
Nonetheless, both Staci and I greatly looked forward to Phase Three of my transition, which occurred pretty much every evening. Phase Three generally involved going home, getting into bed, curling up with some snacks (you can’t go to Philadelphia without experiencing a) WaWa’s, b) Rita’s Ice Water and c) Philly Soft Pretzels) and watching Made in Chelsea.
I’m not even ashamed.