As much as I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that study abroad is not forever, sitting down to write this last blog forces me to acknowledge that my time in England is drawing to a close. I still have about half a month left in the UK, but my school term ends next week. Today I had my last seminar, which means that I’m basically now in what I (and other U.S. college students) know as finals week. However, as opposed to usual, I will not be inhabiting the library for the next few days, primarily because the library here is always hot and crowded and too bright and I hate it.
Anyway, luckily the library probably won’t be necessary. All I have to do next week is write one 1500-word essay and one 3000-word essay—yet these are the only assignments I’ve had all term, and they will be worth 100% of my grades. I have another 3000-word essay to do, but it’s not due until the start of the university’s next term in January. I don’t really understand that either. I’m still ambivalent about if I think this system is better or not. Of course, I can only speak for what I’m studying, because experience here seems to vary based on major, but between American and British literature students, someone’s getting cheated here and I’m not sure who it is.
In addition to the education system, recently I’ve been struggling to reconcile a much more personally disturbing cultural difference: they don’t have Thanksgiving here. I mean, of course you know that, but it’s been a strange disconnect to actually experience. It’s the only time that I’ve really remembered that there’s an ocean between me and everything I’ve known up until now. This is only because Thanksgiving is one of my personal favorite days of the year, especially when considered in conjunction with the Black Friday that follows. I love warming my heart through a nice dinner with the whole family and then forgetting every ethical value I hold to indulge in raw consumerism and capitalism. For Thanksgiving this year, I attended the university’s attempt at an American Thanksgiving party, which was cute and thoughtful but made me horribly sad. Then I watched cartoons, Skyped with my family through a terrible internet connection, and went to bed. The UK makes an attempt at Black Friday, which, like the dinner, I found endearing but ultimately depressing. A country without Target is a country that could never give me a comparable Black Friday adrenaline rush to the one I know and love.
So here I am: a girl who’s just missed her first Thanksgiving about to wrap up a semester in Europe. It’s not such a bad tradeoff. I’m so glad that I chose to come to the beautiful, charming city of York.
In the weeks coming, I’ll be doing my final papers and as much traveling as I can around England. My recent trip to the nearby city of Leeds made me want to focus on where I am. Leeds is just as fun as York, but in a more modern and upbeat way. Flights over the weekend were exciting, but now I want to take advantage of being able to explore the amazing places close to me. I’ll be devastated to England, but I’m looking forward to enjoying the end of my trip, because hopefully it won’t be goodbye to this place forever.