Four years ago today I was on a plane heading from my parents' new home in France to my new home (for the next four months) in Bath, England, to study abroad through Advanced Studies in England, where I took classes on Jane Austen, Shakespeare and poetry writing.
What I find most interesting now is how different I was going into the trip, how different I was when I come home, and how different I am now.
I almost missed my train from Gatwick airport to Bath because I couldn't understand the man on the loudspeaker; his accent was too thick. That was first introduction to the mystical island of the UK.
I arrived in cold, blustery, beautiful Bath and, dragging my massive blue suitcase across the cobblestones, was taken to my home, Linley House, where I met the group of girls that would become my soulmates.
My last blog entry for my time in Bath said: "Last of all, I will miss my Linley girls. They are the loves of my life, the girls I tell everything to, and the girls I have by my side whenever I go anywhere in Europe. We have been through so much together and have grown and experienced the craziest things together."
We got stuck in the mud around Stonehenge on a cold February day, our first trip with Advanced Studies in England. That was probably our first glimpse of the plethora of sheep that reside in the UK, and we never got sick of them.
The literary freak in me forced my friends to take a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare's birthplace, with me the second weekend in England. We were shocked to find that there was NOTHING for a bunch of 20-somethings to do in the historic village, and it was probably the coldest walk to a hostel I'd ever taken.
We quickly developed a pub and club schedule: Mondays at Second Bridge, Tuesdays at Weir Lounge, Thursdays at Po Na Na's (which we embarrassingly discovered at the end of the trip it was pronounced "Poo Na Na's" (the Brits are weird, man). We gulped down bottles of wine and pints of cider like water, and we always made it to class the next day, albeit hungover.
We had the power go out on us in Oxford; we were scared of the creepy attic bathroom in our five-story flat; we attended a half-Halloween party, trudging along the streets of Baths in our jellyfish costumes, which we fashioned out of hula hoops and ribbon; We hosted an America party and made a fool of ourselves with our John Deere belt buckles and American flag bandannas at the club; We frolicked on the grounds of Blenheim Castle, where we decided we were going to reside forever. We consoled each other through horrible hangovers, heartbreaks, bad grades and homesickness, and we celebrated each other's accomplishments, from compliments at internships to resisting the second bag of Hob Nobs.
We discovered our favorite haunts, from the Huntsman to the park near our house where we escaped to for all of the 3 days it was warm in Bath, to Sally Lunn's to the middle of the square, where Two-for-a-Pound pasty guy always brightened our day.
When people ask me where in the world I would like to go if I the chance to fly anywhere, right now, I always say Bath. Luckily, parts of Bath -- in the form of my dear flatmates -- stay with me, and I'm thankful for their friendship, their phone calls, their notes, their sympathy and their love.