One year ago, I began the greatest adventure of my life. I spent 9 months, from September 2017 to June 2018 living and going to university in Canterbury, England, and it was the best 9 months of my life. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows; my grandfather passed away, I spent my first Christmas without family, and Paris was a disaster (Helpful tip, don’t carry your visa in your wallet. At least I still had my passport!). Nevertheless, my time spent in Canterbury at the University of Kent will stay with me forever.
I was so nervous and excited on the day I left home. A seven hour flight and I didn’t sleep at all. When I finally got to campus and into my room I was so exhausted, but still I couldn’t sleep. The south of England doesn’t look very different than Indiana, although it was a lot cooler. Travelling to another English speaking country is a bit less of a culture shock. I think the most shocking thing was that was thousands of miles away from home but didn’t feel any different. It’s like that moment when you turn 18 or 21 and you think you should feel like “an adult” but really it’s just any other day. Here I was in another country, living in a campus house with strangers, having to cook my own meals for the first time, yet it wasn’t as scary or different as I thought it would be.
Over the course of the next 9 months, I fell in love with Canterbury. I loved the cobbled streets in the shopping district, the gorgeous cathedral (despite all of the scaffolding for the repair work), I even loved trips to Tesco for groceries. Although the University of Kent Canterbury campus is about half the size of IU, I fell in love with it too. I joined the Literature Society and made great friends with whom I still speak. I also joined the rambling society, TreKent, and spent every other Sunday walking through the beautiful Kentish countryside. I made British friends, German friends, Italian friends, even some American friends from different parts of the country. I traveled to Ireland, Scotland, and Paris, toured the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio, and visited English castles. But my favorite memories aren’t of grand adventures. They’re of finding the perfect ratio of milk and sugar to add to my tea, of setting off fireworks on bonfire night with my friends, having a picnic lunch at the Cathedral while we prepare for exams, and all of the pub quizzes, some we even won. I do wish I had done some more travelling, been to a few more places in Europe, but I don’t regret the way I spent my time. Now when I look back at the pictures I took, it feels so far away and I miss England desperately. I didn’t feel any different when I left home, but coming back from Canterbury I noticed a change. I was older and perhaps a little wiser, but I was also ready to move forward in my life, into the unknown.
One of the things people always asked while I was abroad was what I missed from home. I missed good peanut butter and movie theatre popcorn, volunteering at the IU Cinema, my cats, and, of course, my family. Now I have things I desperately miss from Canterbury: the pigeons outside my window, black currant jelly babies, meal deals with Cheese & Onion crisps, the view from our kitchen window (which wasn’t even nice), group trips to ‘Spoons or Nando’s, and, of course, my friends. I could keep on listing, but I think it would make me feel even more homesick. Homesick, because even though it was only for 9 months, Canterbury was, and always will be, my home.