The W&M 2011 Cambridge summer program was beyond phenomenal. I took a course on spies, another on Shakespeare, and spent the majority of my free nights out around the city. I saw some truly beautiful things and met some truly beautiful people, and I could not be more thankful that I had the chance to go.
Unfortunately, there was a downside to it all – coming home. Thanks to all the hype I heard before I left, as well as my tendency to over-romanticize everything, I expected to come home from England a completely different person.
While I was abroad, I did realize that I was acting differently, and in a good way. The moment I stepped off of the plane at Heathrow, I felt better about myself. As I traveled around the country (to London, Bath, and Oxford), I began to realize that I was feeling a level of self-assurance that I had never experienced before. I was spending less time worrying about the little things and more time going out and experiencing the world.
I think this fearlessness is something that a lot of people experience when they are abroad. There is a certain amount of anonymity afforded to you when you are in a foreign country, even if you are studying with other students from William & Mary. It’s this anonymity that enables you to completely let go. I was able to roam the streets of Cambridge, soaking up all the exciting things the city offered, without once over-thinking my actions.
While I felt that I had become a better person abroad, I didn’t feel the same way when I set foot on campus again. What I had to realize was that the self-assurance that I felt in England had been with me all along. England only brought it out of me.
Now that I’ve realized this, campus doesn’t feel so small anymore. I finally feel at home here again. The only difference is that now I try to spend every day of my life like it’s my last day in Cambridge.
Lauren Hill ’12 is from Fairfax, Virginia. She is studying English and music at the College of William & Mary, and plays the bassoon in the Orchestra and Wind Symphony. She spent summer 2011 studying abroad in England at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge.