It’s hard to believe that I was at the University of East Anglia one year ago. It’s hard because at times it seems like I could wake up and still feel what it is like to be there, and at times it feels like a whole other lifetime ago. More often, however, it just seems absolutely and wonderfully bizarre that I actually did it–I lived in Norwich for nearly half a year!
Returning from the UK was difficult at first. After experiencing such a different lifestyle, it was weird to go back into my familiar old setting. While many students use their semester abroad as an opportunity to travel around Europe, I decided to spend more of my time in Norwich to fully experience what it’s like to be a UEA student. Though I did end up backpacking after the semester, it wasn’t the novelty of travelling I missed when I returned, it was my everyday life in Norwich. I missed constantly meeting people from different cultures and trying new things, going to interesting lectures, my walk from the University Village to campus, LCR nights and the blue/red bars, exploring Norwich and going to my favourite café in city centre–I even missed taking the 25 bus! I missed all the things that made my little life in Norwich what it was: wonderful.
I have travelled quite a bit in my past, so I was surprised that I was so impacted by that semester. I realised what an amazing opportunity I had to live in a dream life with six months to explore new experiences. When I came back I decided to integrate small parts of my life in Norwich into my college life here in the US. I still think back to my time in UEA quite a lot, and since many of my friends studied abroad as well, we often find ourselves reminiscing over our experiences.
It’s hard to explain what it is that I miss about being in England, in part because it is difficult to explain English subtleties. Between witty banter over nice cream tea, there was an exciting simplicity that was worth savouring. Studying in UEA has left a big impression on me. Not only did it make me fall in love with the English culture (and of course, Norwich). but it has also made me more confident and ready for the next stage in my life.
I often hear that study abroad changes people’s lives. Since I didn’t feel like I entirely changed when I got back, I was sceptical. However, a friend of mine convinced me otherwise. To her, life changing events can be events that change the course of a person’s life; maybe people don’t change, but their direction in life does. In that sense, my life has changed because of UEA and studying abroad, as I will be returning to the UK next year to pursue my Masters in Economics!
Talya Stern visited UEA from Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.