While flying on the plane back from Reading, England, I experienced an overwhelming sensation. The purest sensation that could be categorized as nothing less than heartbreak. Heartbreak that could, shockingly, not be appeased by airplane chicken that may once have been biodegradable cardboard. But what brought this heartbreak on? My three months in Reading were stacked with exploration, attempting accents will foul results, laughter, bonds that cannot be broken, and the kind of travel experiences that make the term “life-changing” seem perfunctory when actually faced with life-changing events. I felt more in my element standing in the Globe Theatre and admiring the stained-glass windows of York Minster then I ever have in my hometown. It wasn’t simply the countryside or a view of the Channel, but a deep, profound connection to a country full of history and life. England sings, and I was but lucky enough to listen along.
Then my fear hit. I wasn’t ready. A study abroad experience had manifested itself into a way of life. There were still too many battered fish to be eaten and the corridors of ancient castles to be investigated. It’s near blasphemy, but upon realizing I would be departing this grand place soon I became content to avoid all acceptance that my situation was temporary.
“No I don’t actually live in Nebraska.”
“What do you mean there’s no public transportation?”
“How does one go about shucking corn?”
For years, I’d planned to travel to Europe in such capacity; never had I planned to travel back. You never anticipate the return, only the departure. It isn’t that I wasn’t grateful, that I didn’t feel how lucky I had been, but rather I was now experiencing loss. Not the kind of tragic loss Shakespeare penned, but the loss of a dream. My dream of seeing England was now floating off into the atmosphere, shriveled and wanting the comfort of some other bright-eyed anglophile. What was I to do? Find a new dream and betray the constancy of my last? Yes, I must find a new dream. No question. But setting different goals couldn’t possibly result in betrayal. Dreams are ever changing and growing. They are the make-up of who we are as passionate people. Discovering a new dream would be the only solution to honor my last.
Regardless of this fact, there I was, sweating in my rain boots, crying next to a stranger on a plane. Then as my tears stained my pale face, I had an epiphany. I asked myself, what is so wrong with that? It took me a time to rationalize, but nothing, absolutely nothing is wrong with my mini meltdown. Because the moments that mean the most to us, the adventures that sweep us off the step where we stood, shouldn’t be easy to say goodbye to. If it was easy, maybe it didn’t mean quite what we thought it did to begin with. So thank you, England, for making it all too difficult to say goodbye.
Want to read more about Reading, England? Check out “5 Reasons to Study Abroad in Reading, England”