As I write my last blog post to you all, I cannot believe that my time in Manchester is soon coming to a close. It is very hard for me to describe my experience in just a few words, but if I had to associate any word with it, it would be bittersweet.
Bittersweet that when I was accepted I was ecstatic, but right when I said goodbye to my parents in the airport I wanted so badly to turn back and not come. Bittersweet that I met some of the people who I consider my forever friends, but that I would be leaving in two months. Bittersweet I never had confidence in myself to do something like this before- to study abroad. Bittersweet I will have to put my wanderlust living obsession on pause. Bittersweet I have to leave this great city: my second home – Manchester.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am extremely excited to see my parents, family, and friends, but like I said it’s bittersweet. Is it bad that I want to continue to stay here? To continue to travel, to learn more about myself, life, and further my education? No, I don’t think so. I think it only solidifies this experience for me, pulling back in that wonderful adjective – bittersweet. I don’t want to leave my friends here, the potential opportunities, and the countries I have yet to receive passport stamps from, but I miss that physical contact, connection, and in person conversation with my friends and family back home. Not to mention fried chicken and mac-n-cheese, because no one can do it like North Carolina! And if you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do sometime in your lifetime.
My point is, as you get ready to come over here for your experience, come with the most open mind you could. Be open to opportunity. Be open to meeting new people. Be open to travelling. Be open to group projects, study groups, sitting next to random people in class. Be open to the new you that is meant to be discovered when you’re here. For me, I was not as open as I should’ve been, which I think is making the bittersweet feeling so intense right now, because I still feel like I am searching for that exact ‘reason’ I came over here. However, I already found it.
I am leaving this experience with poise, gratitude, new friends, new life experiences, and a new degree. The University of Manchester not only prepared me for the corporate world, but just the world in general through interacting with so many people who are just as driven as you. Driven to do the same experience you are doing, which you continue to overcome obstacles together throughout your year abroad and beyond that. So thank you for everything Manchester, because without you, I honestly cannot even imagine what I would be doing otherwise. See you again in December!
Top photo: Me after running the Great Manchester Half Marathon run on 28 May 2017, only a few days after the Manchester bombing. The amount of pride, strength, and love throughout the people of Manchester was more vibrant than anything I have experienced before.