My black riding boots clacked against the cobblestone streets, as I tried to avoid injuring myself on the lethal combination of wet leaves and slippery uneven stones. The echo of my boots rebounded off of thirteenth century buildings, and traveled down the narrow, vacant street. It was a typical Sunday afternoon in mid-October in Norwich, England: gray sheets of clouds blanketed the sky, hinting at the possibility of another rain shower. The quiet air was trapped beneath the clouds, forced to face the bothersome disturbance of my loud footsteps. It’s hard to believe that this was my life roughly one year ago: exploring Norwich on my year abroad, knowing that I still had eight months of adventures ahead of me…
As I wandered through the winding cobblestone streets on that October afternoon, I remember reflecting on my abroad journey thus far, including my pre-departure orientation which took place at my college months before I boarded a plane to England. I was struck by one memory from the orientation in particular: the global education directors stressed that, as an abroad student, you should “never feel at home” in your host country – you should be “uncomfortable.”
But, that was not my experience. Sure, the first two weeks at UEA had been a bit stressful, with adjusting to life at a new uni (university), living with new people for the first time, and feeling like a small liberal arts college guppy swept up in an enormous university wave. But after that brief period of adjustment and mild discomfort came a span of incredible bliss. On that October afternoon, while wandering the historic Norwich streets, I realized that I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I was in England. I was at home. Coming to this realization brought a smile to my face as I continued on my peaceful stroll.
I still view England as my second home, and it is a place that still holds a very large space in my heart. England provided me with many of the essential pillars of a home: it was a place where I felt safe, a place that I love, a place where I experienced a great deal of personal growth, and most importantly, a place with people that I love – people that have changed and impacted my life more than they will ever know.
In an attempt to cope with the pain of being ripped away from my second home, and to keep the memories I have of the most important year of my life alive, I have decided to create this blog. Yes, I’m currently writing this from a tiny town in the heart of Pennsylvania rather than in the beautiful English countryside. Yet, I intend to allow the spirit of English culture, and my memories of my time there, to thrive through this blog. Among other things, I will write about my state of in-betweenness: I am an American girl who has returned after a year abroad with a huge piece of my heart still remaining in England. I am an anglophile stranded in Carlisle.