After pulling an all-nighter on Friday night, I was already up bright – or rather, dark, since it was 4:30 and the sun doesn’t rise in London until about 6 – and early yesterday morning to catch a cab with a friend to Heathrow Airport. We weren’t on the same flight, but since he left at around the same time, we got to share a ride, which was a lot of fun! We also got to see the sun rise on the way there; the sky was streaked with gorgeous pink and golden hues, a phenomenon of which, thanks to my Isaac Newton class, I now understand the physics.
The odd thing about traveling home when compared with the flight to London is the nature of the time change. Despite traveling for over
12 hours, I arrived in Portland only four hours (local time) after departing from Heathrow… I effectively chased the sun for most of Saturday. The plane I was on had a fascinating feature built into their TV screens that essentially served as a digital map of the route we took across the globe, including live measurements of things like altitude, speed, distance traveled, sun position, etc. It was very interesting to follow our progress live! Also unlike the way to London, I
wasn’t able to get any sleep because it was daytime for the entirety of my flight. Instead, I used the time to write down more memories from the past weeks, and go through all of the pictures I took (over 1,000!). After a brief layover in Vancouver, BC, where I cleared US customs, I flew the short distance to PDX (it felt very odd to be surrounded by American accents again!) and was greeted by my parents with big hugs and smiles. Actual face-to-face time with them is far superior to the Facetiming we’d been doing! By the time we were home, after swapping many stories, I was pretty tired, and as I got ready for bed, I realized I had been awake for 45 consecutive hours… Needless to say, I was out like a light a bit before 8 o’clock!
I slept for 17 hours and was woken up after 1 pm. This afternoon, I did several loads of laundry and unpacked, slightly delirious from the time change. I kept noticing little details that reminded me of where I was, or
rather, where I wasn’t. For example: the air. The wind blowing off the ocean still smells like the ocean, but the air in my house doesn’t smell like home. It’s like visiting a stranger’s house and being very aware that the scent is different. Even though I slept in the same bed last night as I have for years, it didn’t feel like my bed. At present, ‘home’ is still the fourth floor of Scape, with its unique smell and bed framed with windows on two sides. I was talking with a friend who flew back a few hours after I did, and we marveled at how quickly our definition of home adjusted to fit where we were. He thinks it will be similar when we move into our dorms next week, particularly since all but three first-years who went to London will be living in the same dorm!
The extensive gratitude that I feel for this program continues to reach me in waves. I’ve talked with a bunch of the others these past few days about what the last three weeks would’ve been like with a different group of people and social dynamic, if so-and-so hadn’t been able to come, etc. I feel (as most of my classmates do) so lucky to have shared this experience with so many outstanding people, all of whom I’m looking forward to seeing again next week at OSU! I’d like to send out a big thank-you to everyone involved in the organization of this study-abroad, as well as the other students; this was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m so glad to have been involved with such a great group of friends!
I’d also like to thank everyone who has been reading these entries – I loved sitting down at the end of each day to think about what to write and pick out pictures to share with you all. Merely creating this blog was a great learning experience, and I’m happy that other people enjoyed checking it out as much as I enjoyed updating it!