The Girl Without A Guidebook Goes Home
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The Girl Without A Guidebook Goes Home

Will my flight be cancelled? Stay tuned.

The Girl Without A Guidebook Goes Home
Hope Wright

On Sunday, with a heavily stamped passport and overpriced neck pillow in hand, I’m going home. For the past four months, I have been studying abroad in London, where I have encountered everything from cancelled flights to cancelled Airbnbs to unwelcome sights on the Tube. It has been a wild ride with highs and lows, but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. My only regret is that I didn’t travel more, because when you have €15 RyanAir flights at your disposal, you should take advantage of those questionably low prices and take a spontaneous trip to Copenhagen--you never know what you might find.

My bags are far from packed. Last night, my roommate and I told ourselves we would pack at least our shoes away, but instead, we shared two bottles of wine, a pack of chocolate cookies, and watched "Stepbrothers." My unpacked bags are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how unready I am to go home. There’s my present financial situation, which is a far cry from where we started in August, and my health, which has suffered immensely from the lack of sun and warmth I normally have in California. There’s a laundry list of sights I wish I had seen and things I wish I had done, but the reality is that no matter how much I wish, it’s time to go home.

I’ve challenged myself to think of all the positive that wait for me back home. Sure, that’s hard, considering I have forgotten how to drive and I am crippled with anxiety over the thought of going back to my college campus, but that’s just part of the process. My program has tried to instill within us the notion of “reverse culture shock,” which sounds like a load of baloney to me. You know what you’re getting back into, but that doesn’t make it any less nerve-wracking. You’ve been away for a long time and you look different and you act different, whether you realize it or not.

I’ll go home with a few more pounds already packed onto my ample assets and even more cynical and self-deprecating than I was when I left, but all that matters is I’m going home. I am immensely grateful for this experience and I have enjoyed (most) every second, but so much waits for me at home.

First and foremost, I miss my family. Thanksgiving was one of the most emotionally brutal days of my 21 years, because I didn’t expect to miss my siblings’ harping on me and my dad’s practical jokes as much as I did. Calls home have become harder and harder, because it’s dawning on me that in a few short days, those tinny distant voices on the phone will be in the room next to me, like music in my ears. I’d give anything to have my little brother shoot me with a Nerf gun or my older sister to ask me when the last time I washed my hair was because I’m looking like a “greasy rat” or my mom to wake me up at an ungodly hour to walk the dogs with her.

And my dogs. My dogs are the only thing in this world that bring me unconditional joy. Lying in bed for hours watching Netflix isn’t the same without their warm bodies snuggled up next to me, snoring loudly over the opening strains of "The Office" theme song. I miss they way they bound into the foyer as they hear their leashes jingle, or the way they skid into the kitchen when they hear the lids to their food bins being taken off. I’d give anything to gaze out into my backyard and see them sunbathing in the grass. I never realized how much I like getting woken up by their cold noses pushing against the back of my hand until their noses were 8,000 miles away.

Also 8,000 miles away is my dear little car, with its hundreds of thousands of miles and hundreds of thousands of dents. I am absolutely spoiled rotten when it comes to transportation and being from California, learning how to take public transportation during my time abroad has been a greater challenge than the AP Calculus exam I took senior year (and got a 1 on simply because I wrote my name and an apology letter on the last page). I didn’t realize what a luxury it was to be able to grab my keys and whip out of the driveway towards a CorePower yoga class or Peet’s coffee. The Tube, the buses, and the trains here are superior to any other country I went to, but a simple trip to the grocery store entails either a twenty-minute walk or a bus ride. It’s funny how the most simple commodities become luxuries when you don’t have them at your immediate disposal.

I miss my campus and seeing friendly faces on the walk to class. I miss the predictable California weather. I miss Target an inappropriate amount. I think that, despite how desperately ungrateful I may seem to some to go home, it speaks more to how lucky am I to lead the life I do. How lucky am I to have a family that makes it so hard to leave home? And a beautiful, warm house and bedroom that anxiously await my return? And dogs that act as though I’ve been gone five minutes instead of four months? I’m incredibly fortunate to have a world of wonderful waiting just through the border patrol gates at LAX.

Study abroad flew by; it feels like last week I was unpacking my bags and now I’m slowly and shoddily throwing shoes with worn-down soles into suitcases that practically have moss growing on them. I don’t know what or if there’s anything different about me. I do know that I’m going home poorer and fatter, but I’m happy. The combination of the many adventures I’ve taken over the past sixteen weeks and the promise of what’s to come has set my soul on fire, because I have so much to look back on and smile, and so much to look forward to and smile.

Now let's just hope and pray that this girl without a guidebook can find her way home on Sunday.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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