Single Girl Diaries: Saying goodbye to London

(Reminiscing & Sappy) Columnist Ellise Verheyen on her final days abroad.

The day has arrived. My program has come to an end. By the time you read this, I’ll (hopefully) be back in the States. I cannot believe how quickly four months has passed.

For four days, I’ll be on a solo trip to Ireland. I’m excited and a little nervous. I’ve never really traveled by myself before. I’ve traveled in pairs or groups that I didn’t know very well, but never on my own and never for four days.

Wednesday (the day this is published), I’ll be flying home. Unfortunately, my plane leaves at 8 a.m. That means I would have to arrive at the airport at 5 a.m. to check in and make sure everything is in order. However, the Tube doesn’t run that early, so rather than paying excessive amounts of cash to take a train, I’ve decided to stay the night in the airport. (I’ll keep you all updated.)

With this short chapter of my life coming to a close, I’m realizing how unbelievably fortunate I have been. In four months, I’ve traveled to four countries, eaten fish ‘n’ chips on the shores of Brighton, seen the work of aliens at Stonehenge, helped a well-known fashion photographer re-establish his business and made the greatest friends anyone could ask for. The memories are endless.

While my travels have been amazing and I’ve seen so much in such a short period of time, what really made this trip life-changing wasn’t the traveling itself, but the people that I’ve been able to share this experience with. Four months ago, I moved into a tiny flat in North London with three strangers. With a joyful heart, I can say that I left London with three sisters. (But not like my actual sister Kaileigh. More like awkward half-sisters, but still awesome.)

These girls are the type of people that I always want to surround myself with. They are beautiful (both inside and out), witty, intelligent, kind, loving and strong. I don’t know how the MU Journalism Abroad gods decided that the four of us should room together, but I’m forever indebted to them. It saddens me to think that these girls have spent the last three years within a two-mile radius of me, and it took crossing an ocean to meet them. Fortunately, we’ll all be returning to MU in the fall for a whole year of friendship goodness.

In general, I can’t imagine being in London with a better group of people. Although the whole group of 27 people may have had some differences, I believe many of us will remain lifelong friends.

My squad remained fairly mild throughout our last week of London. We had projects and presentations, so most of our free time was spent in our favorite coffee shop working. But being together in a place we all (well, most of us) fell in love with was more than enough to make our last week the best.

On my last day in London, I woke up early with my roomie Kaity to watch the sunrise from the top of Primrose Hill, ate banana bacon pancakes at The Diner, went to the Camden Markets one last time, then packed and prepared for our impending departures. We went to dinner at our favorite burger joint in Camden and spent the rest of the evening in one another’s company. The most exciting part of our night was when two of my flatmates and I played catch with an orange for 10+ minutes.

So a little advice for those of you looking to travel/study abroad: pick your people wisely. Sure, walking the Southbank of London is cool and all, but unless you’re with friends that will scream-sing One Direction and dance all the way from the Eye to Millennium Bridge during sunset, will it really be that memorable?

Life is full of little surprises and silly moments. I don’t know about you, but those are the things I will remember for the rest of my days. Oh, the places you’ll go will be great, but the memories made with loved ones are what truly last.

So thank you Caitlin, Kaity and Nikki for making this the best experience of my life. I couldn’t imagine my time abroad without you.

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