Ever since I was young, I never truly felt like I belonged anywhere. I made friends in the small area of Pennsylvania that I lived and it wasn’t a horrible place in any way, yet I always felt like I was a foreigner in my own country.
When I began looking for colleges to attend after high school, I remember my main thought was whether or not they had a study abroad program. It was the first week of college when I scheduled a meeting with my advisor about the study abroad programs. Patience is a virtue, however, and although it had not been until my Junior year, I have no doubt I chose the right place at the right time for me to study abroad. This place was called Worcester, a town in England that would change my life.
If you haven’t heard of Worcester, you might have heard of the ever famous Worcestershire sauce, the place where it originates. The town had everything you need, a great University, a huge library, plenty of shops and restaurants to visit, a beautiful river that flows through it, it was impossible not to like this place. Now, I may have only studied abroad there for five months, but it was five months that changed my life in such a way I know I will never be the same. The culture, the town, the shops, the food, the traveling convenience of getting on a train and traveling to London for a weekend or traveling to an airport nearby to take a trip to any European country made life so much more exciting and continually filled my travel desires. It was as though I had been searching for this place my entire life, it was as though I had always belonged here.
There were so many new things I had begun to discover, yet looking back the true reason I loved my experience was clear. Even though I was in a great place, it did not define the experience I had in England. What truly defined my new love for this place and this country was all the wonderful and amazing people I had met there. This truly had the biggest impact on my time there. I had never met people like I had during my experience, and I created strong friendships unable to find in my small town in Pennsylvania—it was as though they had always been waiting. There, I created friendships that will continue to impact me for the rest of my life.
Although it was not an easy task to say goodbye to the town I had come to love with its river and canals I would run along almost every day, stopping ever so often to watch the hundreds of swans searching for food or the dogs playing with their owners. These were things that were difficult to leave, but nothing could describe the pain I felt to leave those who I had now created those close friendships with.
I know I will return someday, for it would be a tragedy not to. My plan for when I graduate is to go back, and I will not make the same mistake twice, for when you’ve found a place that inspires awe beyond you ever imagined there is no forgetting it in a million years. I love Worcester and all those I met there dearly, with all my heart, and there’s not one day it goes unmissed.
About the Author: Susan O’Toole, now a Senior in College, currently lives in Pennsylvania, with hopes to return to England after graduation. She has a huge love of travel, writing, and photography and hopes to continue to meet people from all over the world and never stop her search for where she belongs.
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