It’s been exactly 184 days since she left. But today is the day that this Australian finally returns home.
Her wallet is notably lighter, but her heart remains heavy with emotion as she wheels her bags through the airport terminal. She has sensed that this short chapter in her life has been coming to a close for a while now. The friends that she has made from her time abroad have all, one by one, returned to their own realities, and now it’s her turn.
She’s accepted this inevitable passing of time, having spent her remaining days abroad in London to herself. London was where it all began for her. She remembers being greeted by winter’s numbing cold handshake and breathing in the crisp air. Arriving into London for the first time was like entering a stranger’s home. It possessed the familiar comforts of her own home, but the inner-workings of how one lived remained foreign.
Yet upon her recent return, London’s summer was a warm embrace. It was almost as though the changing of the seasons and the city’s familiarity was symbolic of her own growth these past few months. London was the first to welcome her, and the last to bid her goodbye.
Her stomach is empty as she waits for her flight, yet her mind is full from the experiences she’s had from her time spent abroad. Perhaps this may be enough to occupy her mind in future nights spent asleep, dreaming. But this doesn’t mean that she is ready to lay her head to rest on her pillow back home. Her mind has been sparked with an insatiable hunger to see what else the world has to offer.
In 184 days, she had made it to 9 countries. She travelled through England before finding her home in Scotland. In between her semester and exams, she went to Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Spain. Later she explored France and the friends she made abroad welcomed her into their homes in Germany and Austria before she returned to London.
To think that – what some might regard as a lifetime of travel – was accomplished in just a mere 184 days makes her smile. A once nervous and unexperienced traveller is now left to wonder freely where else she might go in her own lifetime.
Although she’s said her goodbyes to Europe (for now), she still feels a tinge of sadness as she watches this chapter end. She looks fondly at the to-be exchange students and thinks, “You have no idea what you’re in for.”
This is because no one really knows. But isn’t that life? She’s found that a lot can happen in 184 days. So, even though she’s not quite sure what will happen after she returns home, she’s excited for what life will present her next.