There is a pretty special bond between international students. You are all inexplicably linked because you all know what it feels like to be out of place in a new world. It’s easier to be a misfit in a group of other misfits.
The people that I met in England have, in so many ways, become like family to me. I live in a building of mostly international students, and I was able to spend so much time learning about all the different places and cultures that my friends come from. Suddenly, the countries that once seemed so foreign to me have faces attached to them.
Even though, I may never visit the countries of my friends, I have heard first-hand the stories and customs that make up their homes. And the more I learned, the more I realized how small we all are in the face of the world and how different each culture is from one another.
I have also learned lessons in compromise. Many times over these past weeks, my American perspective has been the complete opposite from some of my friends. And in talking to my international friends, I’ve gained new perspective on things like religion, language, courtesy, love, sexuality, and education.
It is through these conversations that I’ve learned to appreciate the freedoms that come from being a US citizen. But, I’ve also been shown the cracks in my country that I had never noticed before.
In two days, I will say goodbye to these people who have lived with me for three months. I will say goodbye, and for the first time in my life, I will say it knowing that I will most likely never see them again. What string of words can communicate this?
So often, I find myself saying “see you later,” but this time, there is no later. With the Atlantic between us, this is the last time I will most likely see my friends in person. It’s sad to say goodbye. These people have become my family these past three months. They have gone through the same ups and downs as me. Their experience and mine are linked.
Goodbyes are tough, but these next two days, I am going to try my best to smile. Some people are meant to come into our lives only for a little while, and when it is time to say goodbye, we have to have the strength to make our peace.
Tomorrow, when the time comes for our last goodbyes, I am going to be sad. I will hug my friends and make sure to commit them to memory. But, how can you sum up three months in just a few words?
Thank you for being there. You made my experience here worthwhile. I don’t think I would have made it through without you. I wish we had a little more time. I can’t believe it’s been three months. Make sure you turn in your key. Don’t forget me. Have a good flight. Merry Christmas. Goodnight. Goodbye. See you later.
(Photos are mostly from my friends. They’ve been awesome at documenting everything.)
2 days until I return the US.