Well, that’s all she wrote, folks.
I am officially home in the states, with my little dog curled up in my lap. My parents met me in the airport and as I pulled them both into a group hug, the vision I had been playing over and over again in my mind came true. It was just as sweet as imagined.
We drove through my hometown and I couldn’t stop talking. I had so much to tell them. Yet as we drove, I noticed a few things: everything is bigger in the states because there’s more space. The roads are wider, lawns are huge, trees are taller and denser, houses are bigger. It makes sense, given the tiny, wee island that is Britain. I did stop to consider whether I was making a poor comparison: a suburb of the states VS. a major city in the UK. However, given what I saw on our road trips to Bath, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Dover, the suburbs of the UK are flat, grassy rather than wooded, and quite cramped.
There’s also something quite polished about the UK (city and suburbs). It’s as if everything has been arranged for a lovely portrait. The US seems a little rough around the edges. Where the Brits try to put either unpleasant or purely functional things like factories, steam towers, or repair facilities out of the way, we just plop them wherever we have space. Perhaps it comes again to limited space. They must be economical about space because they don’t have as much of it.
My hometown has put its finest dress on. The lilacs, azaleas, cherry blossoms, the dogwoods, and the tulips are all out. My body is still trying to adjust to eighty degree weather, but we’ll get there.
I’ve been trying to gauge the changes in myself. Here they are from what I’ve detected so far:
- Obviously, an extremely broadened worldview.
- I love languages. I’ve been studying Italian on my own for about three years. My recent discovery of opera has increased my zeal for learning it. I think I always knew this, but being abroad helped me see just how multilingual other Europeans are (generally, Brits are not) and how pitiful monolingual Americans are.
- I am a little ashamed to be American. When in other countries (particularly when not in the UK), I would do all I could to hide my accent. I would speak quietly. I would choose words that wouldn’t give away my hard ‘r’ or spread vowels. I didn’t want people to know where I was from because I was afraid they would judge me for it. I was afraid they’d think I love Trump. I was afraid they’d think I was loud, rude, selfish, bigoted, racist, and entitled.
- I might be happier living in another country. America is, from an objective point of view, not the promise land it was 100 years ago. There are other countries where the standard of living is better.
- I was restless before I left and I didn’t know why. Being in London helped me realize that I needed a new mental challenge. I’ve been studying musical theater since middle school, delving into it headfirst to learn everything possible. But because musical theater’s history only goes back so far and is only writing new history so quickly, I hit a standstill. I was seemingly all caught up. I had learned all I could (for now) and just had to wait to actually go out into the biz and do it. So, I found opera. A related, but entirely different skill set and area of study. The perfect new mental challenge.
- I love writing. Writing for you all has been a blast. We also had a class with an absolutely marvelous professor, who helped us understand and practice playwriting. I love it.
- I will always love Shakespeare. No explanation needed for that, I think.
- I love nature. I need flowers, grass, trees. London is very green. North Philly isn’t.
- I need my family.
- I can’t wait to start my adult life. I used to fantasize about being on Broadway some day or doing something really amazing with my craft. Now, I just dream about getting an adorable apartment, with a garden, hopefully a partner, and a pet. I want a neighborhood. I want a weekend market. I want to be a regular at a cafe. I won’t mind the traveling that comes with an artist’s life as long as I can come home to a place that’s my own.
So, there you are. I have many more things I’ve learned and discovered about myself and others, but those are the big 10.
If you’d like to keep in touch with yours truly, please head over to my blog Quarter of Noon and subscribe. I’d love to talk with you!
It has been lovely writing for you. Emily and I loved getting emails from some of you and were so happy to hear your comments. We hope the rest of you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it and maybe this blog will inspire you to take your own trip abroad!
Thank you again for reading, everyone! Best wishes!
Katie H. and Emily