The city was becoming more and more silent with each tick of the clock as London drifted deeper into the night. The warm June breeze could still be felt in the air even though it was well after midnight. Queensgate was lined with rows of homogenous white flats with arched entryways. The street was still and noiseless. Except for the house numbered 14.
Walk up the five marble stairs to the front door, punch in the access code, and take the silver elevator to the fifth floor. Follow the blue and white floral carpet all of the way to the end of the hall and peak into the kitchen window. There will be about a dozen students spread around the room. Some sprawled out on brown leather couches with their heels on the floor and suit jackets hanging on the back of the chairs, some seated around the big white table playing cards with half-drank bottles of champagne, and some standing in front of the oven cooking that night’s after-party masterpiece.
I wish I could go back and take a picture of this moment. When you hear people talk about their study abroad experience, they usually tell stories of the amazing places they traveled, the awe-inspiring sights they saw, or the unforgettable adventures they embarked on. No one ever really talks about the little moments like these. The 1 a.m. conversations over scrambled eggs with your best friends, staying up and reliving that night’s wine-induced adventures until the sun rises.
Spending a portion of my life living in London taught me much more than I would’ve ever anticipated. I knew I was going to come back to America with an increased love for travel, a newfound appreciation for British culture, and hopefully a much better understanding of the tube system, but I wasn’t prepared for the sense of identity and independence I would gain.
I thought that now, sitting in my dorm room looking out at the Charles River I would think about my trip abroad and I would miss Oxford Street, the double-decker buses or Westminister Abbey, and of course, I do miss all of those things but those moments aren't what meant most to me.
The true waves of nostalgia come at times when something takes me back to that fifth-floor kitchen on 14 Queensgate and those endless summer nights in South Kensington when I didn’t have a care and the whole world was at my fingertips.