The bond you form


I spent my first Saturday abroad in the emergency room.

In the United Kingdom, they call it the A&E for accident and emergency, a difference in dialect I was less eager to learn.

I was frustrated. My eyes were bright red, but I felt red all over. I had spent all week trekking the streets of London, collecting sinus decongestants, allergy medications, and over the counter eye drops.

But the pile of medical bric-a-brac that had accumulated on my nightstand had proved useless. So there I sat, in a crowded waiting room, watching a smorgasbord of injured Londoners filter in and out.

My professor sat next to me, doing his best to keep me calm and entertained during the four hour wait. He told me stories about the times he had been to the emergency room in America. He made me laugh, choosing to spend his Saturday sitting in a hospital keeping me company, rather than exploring London. As I tried to temper my apprehension, I noticed his kindness.

Today, I returned from the hospital a second time. It had been a trying day of waiting rooms and long-winded explanations of my symptoms. I had grown grumpy. By the time I had been examined and diagnosed, I was at the end of my rope. This was not the London I set out to see. I had become well-versed in socialized medicine, but had yet to see Buckingham Palace.

When I returned to the flat, dinner was waiting for me. So were friends I had never met two and a half weeks ago. They asked how I was, joked with me, made sure I was well fed.

We sat on the couches, listening to The Who. The opening chords of “Baba O’Riley” played, and I felt magic stirring in my chest. This happens every time I hear the opening chords of “Baba O’Riley,” but this time was different. I didn’t know how, but it was. Just as the second verse was ending, the door to the flat opened behind me. The chorus rang out from the speaker and six voices surrounding me. We bellowed over Roger Doltrey, and my heart sang along. The magic was different because I was sharing it.

I won’t lie and say my time in London has been a picture perfect experience. It has consisted of more pink eye and torn eye than London Eye. But I have all the time in the world to get to Buckingham Palace.

The far more precious part of studying abroad is the time you get with people. My professor, my peers. The bond you form. Because when you’re so far from home, you find home in each other.