As I write this final entry, the day after my program ended, I’m curled up on a couch in a lounge at London Heathrow Airport—my new favorite airport—trying to wrap my head around how quickly these last three months flew by.
So let me fill you in on the happenings of my final weeks here before I talk about all my musings and feelings and lessons I’ve learned and things I wish I’d known, etc.
In my last few weeks here, I:
- Went into full-time rehearsal mode for our final shows. My group did Troilus and Cressida. We rehearsed from 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. every day.
- Went into tech mode for two days, which involved rehearsing from 9:30 or 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. for two days before the show Wednesday.
- Performed our show!
- Had tutorials with all of our teachers to talk about progress and future goals.
- Had goodbye drinks with our head tutor, the fabulous Debbie Seymour.
- Performed our final movement pieces. Each group chose an action movie to act out in “the box” which is a small (maybe 4 by 2?) rectangle laid out on the floor in tape. My group did Spiderman!
- Graduated!! We got our diplomas, there were some great, moving speeches that made more than a few people cry and then we (classmates and teachers) just hung out in the common room together one last time, taking pictures and reminiscing.
- Had my last ‘tortilla’ burrito— a very important, very hard goodbye.
- Had a party at the residence building where a lot of us stayed—Chapter Portabello! One of our teachers, Stevie, even came for a bit! It was also my friend Erin’s birthday. 🙂
I’ve been so excited about going home for so long—since I’ve never been away from home for this long—that I was completely blindsided by my feelings when our last day finally came around. I didn’t realize how at home I felt in London until I was walking out of my room for the last time, about to hand in my key. I’ve appreciated and loved my friends here all along, but I still didn’t realize just how how hard it would be to say “goodbye” in place of “see you tomorrow.” I didn’t realize how much I had changed throughout my time here until I started to really reflect on these last few months and all that I’ve learned and experienced.
So, to reiterate something I said in my first blog post—which feels like AGES ago—I’m not a sage or a saint. I hold no authority. My advice is purely subjective because everyone is different and everyone’s experiences will be different. But here are some things that really affected my experience and some last tidbits.
- Stay grateful. Always. I started a gratitude journal on day three here, and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. (I’m definitely going to keep writing in it when I get home.) I simply write one thing I’m grateful for before I walk out the door in the morning, and one before I go to bed. It can be as big as “excited for my show!’ or as small as “I really loved that bowl of cereal this morning.” I’m dead serious. No matter how stressed out or tired or frustrated I was, I made myself write something down to remind myself that there is always, always something to be grateful for. It really lifted my mood, and has made me a much more positive person.
- Say yes to saying yes. If you haven’t already read “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes, get yourself a copy ASAP. The very simple premise of this amazing book is that Shonda Rhimes decided to say “yes” for a year and document the life-changing experience. Yes to the things that scared her, yes to things she wouldn’t have let herself do before, and even yes to saying no. I tried to apply this approach to my semester abroad by making myself go out with my friends sometimes when I just wanted to stay in and watch Netflix. I also applied this approach by saying yes to saying no, when I really truly knew that I needed rest or just wanted some downtime or just didn’t want to do something. This one’s a little complicated, I know—but overall it’s simple. Sometimes you should push yourself to try new experiences while you’re abroad having new adventures, and sometimes you have to do exactly what YOU want to do. If everyone’s going out for Chinese food and you hate Chinese food, that might be a saying yes to saying no moment. But if someone invites you to go try some new activity—like roller disco, for example—and you just don’t know anything about and aren’t sure if you’d like it, maybe give it a try. You might just surprise yourself.
- Take care of yourself. Drink water and tea, get sleep, use hand sanitizer, bundle up, etc. It is NOT fun being sick and missing out on things. From class to museum trips to exploring neighborhoods—just stay healthy so you’ll have the option to make the decision whether to do something or not.
- Stay in touch, but don’t stay obsessed with your life at home. Because you’re not there, as much as you sometimes would like to be. Instead, you’re in this amazing new place with the unique opportunity to create a new little life for a couple of months. It’s okay to get homesick, but don’t spend the whole time actually wishing you were home.
- Take pictures even when you think it’s cliche and stupid. I promise, you’ll want the memories later!
- Commit to some form of journaling whether it be through photos, blogging (!), a gratitude journal, a conventional journal, etc.
Best of luck to those going abroad next year! Feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions! I really mean that for everyone—but especially reach out if you’re a drama major/thinking about going to London. I can’t recommend LAMDA enough.
Signing off for the last time,