I just realized that my passport expired. I took it out this morning, flipped it open, and the first stamp I saw was from Heathrow and dated:
25 JAN 2004
Ten years ago today, I realized, I started my semester abroad in England.
Things I remember about my first two days:
- Arriving at my dorm and having an attendant request money as a deposit for something or other, and having no pounds yet. I think a fellow exchange student that I had just met covered for me.
- On my way to my room, a nice man offered to carry my bag for me! I briefly fell under the misapprehension that all British men are chivalrous.
- My bedroom had a sink! This was so weird, and yet, the best thing ever!
- A couple girls on my floor invited me to join them in the dining hall for dinner.
- I was late because (and I didn’t figure this out until the next day) my clock was running slow because it wasn’t getting enough electricity from the outlet.
- That night, the whole corridor went out bar hopping. We ended up at a beautiful piano bar inside an old church, where I learned my favorite British slang word: “pull” – to hook up.
- The next morning, I missed orientation, due to the clock issue.
Get ready, because this is the highlight of my whole semester:
- While trying to find my way, the cutest boy I’d ever seen came up to me and said, in a British accent: “Excuse me, miss…”
- …I prepared myself to flip my hair and tell him that I couldn’t give him directions because I’m just the charming new American girl…
- But he finished his sentence with, “I was wondering if I could take you out sometime…”
- I really thought I was Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants.
- I scrambled around trying to figure out how to register for classes on paper like olden times.
- And before the day was out, I was in my dorm room crying because I realized I was completely poor due to the conversion rate (about 1.9 at the time).
And the rest of the semester went downhill from there. I went out with that cute boy for 3 weeks but we had little in common. The students on my corridor got busy with their lives and stopped inviting me out. I spent most of my days bored in my single room, and most of my nights drinking with Americans or trying to get illegal downloads of Sex And The City or Friends, which was pretty much impossible with the ancient laptop I had.
I know a lot of people say that their biggest regret from college is not studying abroad, but I actually wonder sometimes if it was worth the loneliness. However, I learned a lot from my failure abroad: I’m now more friendly and outgoing, more up for joining group activities, and more immune to charming accents.