An original essay by Jordan Marcelo Jacobo ’12 about his study abroad experience won first place in Linfield’s International Programs essay contest. The English and mass communication major spent part of last year in Nottingham, England.
Bringing home the world
Outside Buckingham Palace, in early January, we stood in the waning, gray-skied light of an English winter. My shoes were soaked and faded, well-worn after so many miles spent covering Europe on foot. The snow fell down around us, light but steady, and somewhere inside Queen Elizabeth II passed her evening quietly. In the wind we struggled to unfold our tattered map of London, trying to orient ourselves.
We’d spent several weekends in London, yet the city still seemed foreign: The millions of faces captured in the mind with a hazy pallor; the dozens of languages passed in the street; on the Tube, avoiding eye contact with strangers but aware of their presence.
These memories are merely imaginable to the inexperienced, but familiar to all those who have shared in the mystery of Europe, with her castles and cathedrals, bakers and fishmongers, the roundabouts, the foreign sweet shops, the cobbled roads and the eternal fear of pickpockets.
It’s the possibility and the bustle and noise of Europe I miss most now. The blank faces on the Underground. The blues musicians on the Paris Metro. The wrinkled woman asking for a trifling bit of change, bowing her head in humility after the Pope’s blessing in St. Peter’s Square. The rolling, green countryside, dotted with sheep and small villages, beautiful and perfect like something out of a novel. And of course, the full English breakfast, with all its delicious fats and carbohydrates, big brother of the sparse continental breakfast at the backpackers’ hostels — a cold croissant with Nutella, a coffee, and maybe some fruit if you’re lucky.
Those four months of my life are like a dream. The thousands of pounds and euros spent, the time passed on the calendar, make it real. The friends made, the languages butchered, the mass transit systems managed, the monuments, market squares, winding rivers and alleyways of Europe, so surreal.
I want to see the world now, more than ever. I always imagined the world as a faraway, unattainable place, but it is so close. At our fingertips. And when you see the world, you care about it.
You left home and returned — matured, independent and world-weary, excited for that very same world that at times exhausted you and at times infuriated you. Overall, the world out there makes life more exciting and wonderful and beautiful than you ever could have imagined.
Linfield is ranked among the top 25 small colleges in the nation for the number of students who study abroad, with half of Linfield’s students participating. Students study abroad for a month, semester or year.