After 84 days I finally made it back home. It was the longest that I’d ever been away from home and there were tears at both ends of my journey. I left Lampeter just after 5am on Saturday December 13. I clung to two of the girls who had become like sisters to me and I cried. I have no idea why, but I know that I bawled my eyes out because I was sad about leaving them for five weeks. Yes, I was stoked to finally be going home, but I also…I don’t know. I was just emotional. Then my basketball teammate, Juan pulled out his last bottle of whiskey and said everyone had to take a drink. So Juan, Alex, Josh, Raz, Haylee, Charlotte and I stood in a circle together and had one more drink before Juan and I got on the bus that would take us to Heathrow Airport.
I’m not even sure what time it was when I finally stepped off my last flight home. I do know that I was home and the first thing I did was hug my mom. I cried for the loss of my Uncle Ken and my Great Grandmother Lizette. I cried for all the days I’d been homesick. I cried because I was happy to be home and safe. Then I cried some more. Apparently these past 3 months have turned me into a bit of a crier. I wrapped my arms around my mom and got the hug that I’d been needing all semester. She tried to let go and I held on tighter because I wasn’t quite ready for my hug to end. And my poor tiny mother who is barely taller than my shoulders was trapped in my arms while I got my tears and snot all over her shoulder.
But I did other things besides crying the 84 days I was gone!
A couple weeks ago, I took Haylee to her first rugby game. It was my schools rugby team against rugby players who had graduated in past years. We got there in time for me to see someone punch someone else. I got to show Haylee what position I used to play (tight head prop) and we got to watch a bunch of guys knock into each other for a while. That day we also watched our basketball teammate, Josh play football (soccer). I know nothing about soccer, but it was fun to watch. After that Haylee and I went back to her flat and we made breakfast for dinner for Raz and Josh. Then after a bit of dancing, we watched the first Bring It On move with Raz, Josh, and Alex. Haylee and I did all of the cheers while we watched Raz and Josh watch the movie. The looks of disgust were hilarious and almost better than watching the classic that is Bring It On.
Haylee, Charlotte and I played in our last netball game of the year a few weeks ago as well. We lost 21-24, but it was a good game. My netball team has improved by leaps and bounds since September and I’m very proud of the improvements they’ve made. That night I was a goal shooter, Haylee was a goal attack and Charlotte played wing defence. Despite having only just met in September Haylee and I work very well together on the attacking end of netball and the defenders had a hard time preventing us from scoring. Hopefully the two of us will be able to work on the defensive end of the game as goal keeper and goal defence next semester.
On the school front, this semester was very different. Rather than having finals after classes end in December, my school has finals in January after Christmas break. So despite the fact that classes are over, I still have quite a bit of work to do! Even I’m home and still having to do school work, I really enjoy that work. Thanks to my Towards Publication and Writing Workshop professor, I’ve found inspiration in places I never would have looked before. One of my favourite pieces that I got to write this semester was about a boxing match between Jack London and his wife, Charmian. Not only that, but I’ve even gotten some good direction and tips on how to write my dissertation that is due at the end of my school year.
As much fun as I’ve had this semester, there was more fun to be had after leaving school! Yes, I cried when I had to leave, but London was waiting for me! Because Nita and I didn’t fly back to North America until the day after the bus dropped us off, we had a whole day and night to spend in London. We started our day off by dropping our stuff off at the hotel we would be staying at and then made our way to Leicester Square. Because I’m 12 I spent the whole train ride giggling because the station we were heading to was called Cockfosters and it was announced every stop. Hearing it didn’t get any less funny as the train stops passed by. Eventually the giggles stopped and my excitement started to build. Nita and I were going to go see The Phantom of the Opera! One of my “must see” places from my teenage years was Her Majesty’s Theatre. I’ve been to theatre performances before, but this was something entirely different. From the opening scene I was breathless! Everything and everyone in the production was flawless. Especially the lady who played Christina. Not only was she beautiful, but the way she played the role was brilliant. The man playing the Phantom was, of course, superlative. During his closing scenes I was ready to cry and felt frustrated for him. I couldn’t believe that I was actually sitting in Her Majesty’s Theatre watching The Phantom of the Opera. Once again, one of my dreams had come true and I couldn’t believe it!
After the Phantom, Nita and I had just enough time to go and get dinner at Five Guys and head off to our next show, Miss Saigon. I hate to say this, but after the brilliance that was The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon was anticlimactic. I can honestly say that I wasn’t a fan of the storyline. However, I was enthralled by the people who played Kim and the Engineer. As much as I didn’t like the storyline, the songs and individual performances were so well done that I still enjoyed the show. One of the more interesting parts of seeing this show were the seats Nita and I had. Because of where we were sitting, we could see down into the orchestra’s pit. I think it was the cellist that I could see. Even from where I was sitting I could see the passion and love that they played with. It looked like every molecule of their body was playing her instrument. Then the end of the show happened and I was…stunned. The show was simply over and I was stunned at the ending. I had gone into the theatre knowing nothing about Miss Saigon, so the ending was…upsetting and it was just over. I kind of had a WTF MATE?! moment when the final curtain fell and I genuinely left the building feeling like there should have been more. Except there wasn’t. The show was still brilliantly done. I don’t think I’ll ever see another show where they land a fake helicopter on the stage, so I’d definitely go see it again! Never mind how upset the ending made me.
Eventually Nita and I made our way back to our hotel and found our way into our beds and we passed out after a long day in London.
With everything mostly said and done for this semester, I can’t wait to start my next semester abroad. I’ll be returning to Lampeter in January. A part of me doesn’t want to leave home, but there is another part of me that can’t wait to see all of the faces that I’ve come to love seeing and spend time with all the people who I’ve started viewing as my family away from family. I don’t know what next semester will hold for me, but I hope that it will be less of an emotional rollercoaster. I don’t know what will happen, but I do know that I’m looking forward to more shenanigans in my home away from home with my Lampeter family.