Lauren Meyer ’24 is an anthropology major and a History minor from Richmond, VA. In addition to writing opinions for The Flat Hat, Lauren is a member of Club Swimming and Club Field Hockey. Her favorite beverage is a Strawberry Kiwi Capri Sun. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
It might just be my highly specific For You page on TikTok, but I have recently been bombarded with videos of study abroad students listing everything they miss about the United States while overseas. These videos dramatically recount the things they just can’t wait to do or get when they get back on American soil. And so, as a student currently abroad, I’ve decided to chime in on what I personally miss most about the good old United States, and, more specifically, the City of Williamsburg.
First up is Mexican food. This seems to be what is topping everyone’s list, and it’s warranted. No matter how inauthentic you think American Mexican restaurants are, they are worlds above anything I have found in Europe. My program is in England, and although they have restaurants that serve “burritos” here, Brits’ fear of flavor and spice destroy all aspects of what should be a perfectly delicious meal. I’m not sure how you can have all of the ingredients and miss the mark so egregiously, but all I want is a cheesy chicken quesadilla and rice. Or even some subtle seasoning. Please. Even Sadler tacos sound good at this point; don’t take them for granted. And Williamsburg has so many other Mexican places to go to too! I’m jealous.
Next is water bottle filters — or just a water fountain. While sometimes a water fountain will miraculously appear, they are not very common here. You don’t know how lucky you are to have water fall straight into your water bottle from a personalized machine until you’re stuck awkwardly jamming your water bottle under the sink. I do not want to have to fill my water sideways until it spills out anymore. I want the nice water fountains to count how many plastic water bottles I’ve saved. I will never complain about room temperature water or the filter being stuck on red ever again. Just kidding, I definitely will. But Europeans need to drink more water. Seriously.
This one might be a hot take, but I miss lecture classes. While I am very grateful for my study abroad program’s ability to provide me one-on-one contact with my teachers, sometimes I just want to sit back and listen to what someone else has to say. I miss taking notes on lectures. They’re interesting. They take little to no critical thought, unless a professor is really going off the wheels. I’m sure when I get back I won’t have the same sentiment. But right now, a girl can dream about simultaneously listening to the evolution of primates while watching the person in front of her make a tragic mistake in 2048.
I also have to talk about dining dollars. Do you know how many times I’ve just wanted a sweet treat throughout the day but was crushed by the lack of a Swemromas, Student Exchange or even a dining hall? It’s absolutely devastating to realize that in order to eat a midday snack or sip a midday drink, I need to spend my own money. I know dining dollars are, in some way, “real money.” But are they really? And unfortunately, unlike other places in Europe, England’s exchange rate is pretty unfavorable for American currency. Cost of living crisis, anyone?
And, of course, I have to state the obvious: I miss my friends. Eyeroll! I actually despise my friends and want to stay abroad longer so that I don’t have to see them. If they were expelled from campus, I would like that. In all seriousness, it’s so comforting to pass Sadler Terrace and be greeted by familiar faces or to stop and talk to five different people in Swem as a form of procrastination. Instead, the British walk head to the ground, almost sprinting by to get where they’re going — don’t even get me started on sidewalk etiquette. Plus, all the libraries here are silent, so if I do see someone I know, I just have to wave and continue on my way, or else I’ll get some serious side eye. To be fair, I do like a silent study space. Just not silence everywhere!
With all of this being said, I will be sad to leave my study abroad program. I’ll sorely miss the friends I’ve made, the culture I’ve grown accustomed to and of course, the Tesco Meal Deal. Plus, I’ve learned things abroad that I would have no access to at the College of William and Mary. But boy, oh boy, does the ‘Burg have some things going for it that I definitely took for granted and can’t wait to return to. So, as the spring semester winds to a close, make sure you appreciate what the City has to offer before the summer, especially since I don’t have the chance to.