Daryl Wells is studying abroad in the UConn in London program this fall.
I’ve never been the most patient guy in the world; in fact you could say I’m quite impatient. So when I learned Hurricane Irene would delay my trip “across the pond” for a couple of days, I was anything but happy. Now don’t get me wrong, it is always better to be safe than sorry, and I’ve seen Final Destination too many times to want to chance a hurricane. But after spending 5 hours packing jeans, shirts, sweaters, shoes, underwear, socks, and toiletries, I was ready to load up my mom’s Nissan Rogue and set off.
Unfortunately, Irene had other plans. She swept in early Sunday morning ready to wreak havoc, while most tri-state residents were nestled in their beds barracked behind windows and doors. With reports of downed trees and power lines and property damage, we were fortunate to escape with only about 5” of water in our basement and a big branch in the backyard. Irene came and went, and my path to London began to shine through once again.
With my anticipation building, I didn’t even care that our original direct flight from JFK to Heathrow was changed to a connected flight from LaGuardia to Chicago, O’Hare, then on to London. Longer flight or not, I was on my way.
On the ride to the airport I began to wonder if I would like living abroad, or what would happen if I wanted to come home, or if I didn’t fit into the British way of life. Was I making the right decision going abroad for my last semester? Would I miss out on too many senior events?
For the first time since I began this journey six months ago, I felt nervous and homesick. At the check-in point, I felt my anxiety come to a head as the ticketing agent called “NEXT!” and signaled for me to proceed to the counter. My mother fumbling with the ID tags slowed my approach, and even though I knew she was only trying to help, the added delay caused greater annoyance.
Somehow, my bags were checked and my parents were about to leave. “Drink lots of water and eat vegetables” were my mother’s last comments, followed by “I love you, baby.” I shook my father’s hand, and he said he was proud of me. With those final words of support and encouragement from my family, I knew I would be fine. This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo; just like any year, I’d be away and return home.
There’s no turning back now. I’ve said goodbye to my parents, gone through security, and boarded the plane wearing my Project Alpha t-shirt, sweats, MacBook, and UConn snapback. I leave here as an ambassador of my family, my fraternity – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. – and of America. But I wonder how I shall return. I expect to be a better version of myself, more cultured. But really I hope to find what I’ve been looking for. I don’t really know what it is, but I’ll know when I see it. This experience is short and I intend on taking full advantage of it, but for now it’s back to in-flight movies and packages of peanuts for me. Later!