How Far I've Come
Originally published in Far and Away.
It seems like just yesterday I arrived in England with no luggage and no money, yet those first days have already become faded blurs in my memory, replaced by much better memories during my time here. I can’t wait to go home and I can’t bear to leave all at the same time. I have yet to pack up my room, and I have yet to finish my final assignments before their deadlines. I tell myself that if I put them off, I will somehow put off leaving, but the days still pass with a sense of finality. I will have to leave eventually.
I remind myself of all the things I miss from home to remind myself how good it will be to be back. I miss Vietnamese food, my mom, and late-night food runs: all things missing from my time here in Exeter. But I also remember the things I’ll miss when at home: being above the drinking age, student clubs that are not the Mug, and unlimited *super good* food options on campus. Most of all, I think I’ll miss the ease of travelling with my friends. No longer will I be able to take last minute trips to Oxford or Bath. No longer will I be able to take a couple days off from this small city life to run into London on a whim. During these trips, I made my favourite memories and my friends and I even made memes. After all, aren’t the best friendships borne from a metal love of memes?
While there are so many things I’ll miss, I’m grateful for all of the things I will take with me. Living with flatmates and having to cook for myself has taught me a certain amount of personal responsibility and accountability. Living twenty minutes away from campus has made me more punctual. I’m now waking up with enough time to get to class, rather than waking up fifteen minutes before and hoping for the best. Being in a new place has also forced me to be comfortable with myself in a new place. I will leave England a more independent, confident individual. I will be okay with my mistakes. I will love myself a little more.
I’ve also accomplished what I came here to do: to become a better writer although I’m not even sure if I became a better writer or became less obsessed with being a perfect one. I even feel like a better student. Don’t tell my former professors, but this is probably the first semester where I’ve actually done a majority of the readings I’m supposed to do. This may have something to do with the fact I only had to take two classes to be a full-time student, but still an accomplishment.
Before I came, everyone I’d known who had gone abroad told me they found themselves while away, and I didn’t believe them. And I still don’t. I don’t think I’ve found myself. I think I’ve just become myself. Whoever I was before I came was there, just needed to be shaken out of me.
While I hope I get the chance to come back someday (my friends are talking about a reunion already), I think Exeter has given me all it can for now. It’s ready to send me away. And I’ll miss it and everything in it, but I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.