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Cambridge Goodbyes: 10 Extracurricular Lessons I Learned While Studying Abroad

Published on So, I’m leaving Cambridge in a few hours. Walked around town yesterday, reflecting upon everything. The whole experience was fantastic, humbling, enlightening, horrifying, intriguing…a lot of “ing"s, actually.  What the whole "college summer abroad” thing does for you as a 42 year-old is really cause you to think about what you want out of life. At UCLA, as a commuter, I was able to detach myself more, and simply go to school, go to work, go home. Here, being immersed, and being forced (please trust - not personal - I just do my own thing most of the time) to interact with everyone else half my age truly has helped me to approach the future with a bit more positivity. I joke about being terrified and fatalistic - well, part of me is. It’s scary trying to change your life midstream. You kids have it lucky, especially those who have a good idea of what you want to do (and it’s not rock n roll or something equally creative that makes the average person no money). But, I’m looking forward to the challenge. 

So, thank you Cambridge (and UCEAP summer abroad), for teaching me that:

  1. It’s a “A flat white” - remember it, use it.  
  2. You can teach an old dog new tricks (damn you, Pokemon Go) 
  3. There are really good people with integrity in the world. Some of them are only 20 years old. It gives me hope our future isn’t completely screwed.   
  4. Ironically, after taking a course called “How to Be an Anthropologist”, it made me want to be anything BUT. Thank god I have another bachelor’s degree in communication studies in addition to my anthropology one. 
  5. Don’t think I want to go to grad school. I’m toast. At least for a few more years.  
  6. I really am thankful for good friends I’ve known for years that are STILL the same incredible people I knew before, and, in the meantime, have also grown and changed in ways that make them even better. Seriously. I’m blessed. Thank you. 
  7. Stonehenge has a Pokemon Gym. It’s also a great place to get engaged. 
  8. I have a hopeless crush on all older British men, who are all funny, charming, and tell the best stories. (Yep, porters and maintenance, I’m talking to you.) 
  9. Pembroke, your obsession with curry needs to be curbed. I’m from LA. I have my share of Thai and Indian restaurants - all of whom understand how to do curry correctly. Cumin and/or coriander doesn’t need to go in absolutely EVERYTHING. Bolognese sauce is Italian. Please leave it alone. Same goes for every soup you make. Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you have to.  
  10. I am going to miss the ringed pigeons who fly around here and sound like they’re calling out “Woooo HOOOOOOOOO!!!!” (it always cheered me up, even when I was seriously crying hard trying to finish all of my reading and useless paper-writing and presentation-creating for my anthropology class, while the rest of the students were going punting/pub-crawling/Grantchester-tea-touring/playing croquet/doing anything other than sitting in their rooms from 7:30am-2:00am, working on things that weren’t even going to be graded). 

Back to Los Angeles, where my fiance (SQUEEEE! It still sounds weird to say it!) awaits my arrival. I miss him a lot. I miss home a lot. I’m excited to see what life has in store for me.

Ta, England. Thank you for everything.