Growing up, I was that annoying kid who was always talking about Europe. It was my absolute favorite subject when I was little and to no one’s surprise, this continued into my teenage years and even now as an adult. For a while, it was Paris, a favorite of many little girls, but since I read Harry Potter in the 6th grade, I’ve fixated on London.
I always knew studying abroad was a possibility, I had seen it in movies and had read about it in books but it didn’t really hit me I could actually study abroad until I went with my family to a college fair during my freshman year of high school. At the fair, I wandered off and found the booth for the University of Manchester and immediately began speaking to the representative. After our talk, everything I did was to eventually study abroad.
But then, I was hit with reality. The price of being an international student wasn’t a possibility for me; it felt like all my dreams were falling away. This really broke my heart, even though I knew going to the University of Manchester wasn’t my only option to study abroad. I began to accept the fact that maybe my only chance to visit Europe, and specifically the United Kingdom was during my quinceanera trip and after college.
When I got accepted to CU Boulder, I immediately started looking for study-abroad opportunities. Before my freshman year even started, I began the application process to study abroad with Arcadia University in their Independent First-Year London program. This program seemed perfect to me: it was linked with CU so all my credits would easily transfer over, it was specifically for first-year college students, and it was in my dream city, London. I was ecstatic but unfortunately, I was in a relationship at the time and I allowed my then-boyfriend to persuade me into not studying abroad and I ditched the application. Don’t be like me and allow people to get in the way of your dreams, especially because as soon as we broke up, I finished the study abroad application the same day.
I got accepted to the Arcadia University program and from then on, it was all I could think about. Suddenly it was January 6th, 2023 and I was on my flight to London . England was exactly as I had remembered, but this time I wasn’t here for a few days, I was going to be here for a few months.
Those first few weeks in London, I felt so accomplished. There were times when I would just take a look at the city and honestly tear up remembering that I was in London, holding a coffee from a cute little coffee shop walking down Regent Street, getting on the tube, or looking up and seeing Big Ben or Tower Bridge. On top of that, my program utilized the city in every single class. My history professor would take us to the place that we were learning about and how cool is that?!?
I took my lunches in the British Museum and explored sites I had read about in books and seen in movies, like Westminster Abbey and Holmes Chapel. Being 18 and accomplishing one of my biggest dreams made me so proud of myself. I learned so much while in London–not just academically through my classes– but about myself.
During my last week in London, the weather was very gloomy. It poured for hours, and it felt like the city was mourning my departure as much as I was. Although I know I’ll return– whether to visit the most amazing and sweet guy I met there (long distance is hard but it’s very worth it), or just because I feel such a strong connection to London– those last few days truly did feel like goodbye. Farewell to the happiness and adios to the dream that I had for so long, now accomplished and over with. But it isn’t all sad because now I can move on to a new dream and although I don’t know what that is yet, I believe in myself and my ability to make my dreams come true.