This week, I say goodbye to the town that has so lovingly nurtured the already existing love of England I had before this semester. Norwich is a town I had very little knowledge of before I discovered Temple’s exchange program to the University of East Anglia. Consequently, I knew I was bound to learn new and interesting things about the country whose culture I’ve admired for so long. Still, this week I leave Norwich having gained so much more than I possibly imagined I could have.
It will certainly be an adjustment to return to America in deeper ways than just the direction of traffic. In England, I experienced a level of independence that I never had before and I believe this is why I was able to make the strong and meaningful connections with people that I did. Sure, I was embarking on many of my trips alone– but once I had reached my destination, I always met people that I’m thankful now to consider friends and meaningful parts of my semester abroad. This couldn’t be truer of any other group of people than my flatmates at UEA. Whether through our common position as strangers in a new country, or as individuals simply curious to hear about the rest of the world, we all bonded together in such a way that, without them, I don’t think I could have thrived as much as I did at UEA.
In all the travels I made across England these past few months, there really was no city quite like Norwich. Though Norfolk is an incredible county on its own, with much of its medieval structures still standing tall, it’s the people and experiences I had with them that make it my home. My final days living in Norwich are especially important to me, as I have had to opportunity to explore Norfolk more intimately through the kindness of family friends I met up with in Leeds. Most special was having my mom with me, who is accompanying me during my final days in England. We drove to the beautiful wetlands referred to as “The Broads,” which are home not only to an incredible array of wildlife, but also to many medieval churches that have hundreds of years of history behind them. I even got to climb to the top of one church’s bell tower, something I regretfully feared I wouldn’t do before I left. I got one final look at the North Sea from Horsey Beach and also caught a glimpse of one of Norfolk’s many beautiful windmills.
When talking about Norwich to natives, one of the most commonly referenced aspects of the town was how out of the way it is from the rest of England. Though it’s only a few hours away from London, its unique geographic location in the far east compared to the rest of the island has made it so that there are limited railways and major roads that lead directly to it. If I am to go back to England one day, however, I wouldn’t hesitate to go the extra mile, literally and metaphorically, to visit the place so appropriately known as “a fine city.” Hopefully, it will even be a reunion with the many people that made it so fine to me.