Goodbye London: It's Time to Grow Up

About three weeks before the end of my freshman year of college, I was assigned to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The museum is interesting and unique, and it’s a place everybody visiting Boston should explore; however, that is not what this article is about. Rather it is about my Uber driver who picked me up from 775 Commonwealth Avenue and drove me to the museum. At the time, I brushed off his words and didn’t remember his advice until I was staring out at the Charles River one afternoon two weeks ago.

I had called the Uber, and he rolled up in a Honda Accord ready to take me to the museum where I was on the hunt for an 18th-century painting for my humanities course. It was a hot and sticky day, and I was in a rush to get all my work done before the semester ended.

“Hello,” he said, “how are you?”

“I’m good,” I replied, “how are you?”

“Honestly, I’m tired. Are you a student?”

“Yeah, I’m a freshman at BU.”

“Embrace being a freshman when mistakes are still ok to make. One day you’re going to be a grown-up with responsibilities and no free time to explore your passions,” he said.

Then, he calculated out loud the amount of sleep, work, and free time an adult has -- which equaled out to a small amount of time for pleasure.

“Have fun while you can, kid,” he dropped me off at the museum, and I continued on with my life. I studied for my finals, wrote my papers, and packed up my dorm room. My next stop: London for a summer study abroad program.

In London, I lived. I traveled by myself and made very close friends. I went out almost every night, met so many new people from far-flung places, and found myself in so many interesting situations. I embraced my freedom.

I was so sad to leave London. Today, I miss the nights we all spent together in the clubs, this little restaurant on the corner called Da Mario, and even my 9 AM classes. I miss this Americanized bar called O’Neill’s and all the strangers we met there. I miss the bouncer who told me my eyes lit up his soul. I remember the funny little moments: getting in the wrong Uber, discussing every detail of the night with my friends before we’d fall asleep and each morning over cappuccinos. I still laugh about the things we did.

Never in a thousand years would I have imagined I’d get an opportunity to have so much fun in my life. And I might not remember every little detail forever, but I’ll always remember the way I felt: infinite and free.

In the fall, I returned to Boston and life went on. It’s almost as if my real life was on pause while I was in London, and reality set in pretty quickly when I set foot on campus in September.

It’s like my Uber driver said: have fun while you can because soon you will have so many responsibilities. And it’s true, as a sophomore the responsibilities are growing rapidly, and they show no signs of stopping. School is serious now. But for those three hundred of us who studied together over the summer, at least we have the memories of a time when life’s responsibilities were suspended.

When I talk to others who went to London with me, they always express the same thought: “I miss London.” I miss London too, but I think it’s finally time to move on and get back to the grind. London wasn’t real life in many ways. It was three hundred students from BU taking on a new city, going to bed at 3 AM every night, and ignoring our responsibilities.

So, as I sat on that blustery day staring out at the Charles River, I thought of my Uber driver. He was right, but I don’t think it’s bad to have less free time. It means I’m growing up. I realized I can no longer be fooling around. I have big plans and dreams for my future, and it’s time to get down to business.

 

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