On my flight back to New York from my 10-day solo trip to England, I could not stop crying. I had just met my pen pal of four years for the first time, visiting him in the countryside and traveling together to London — my new favorite city — for 10 days of bliss. After all that, I simply didn’t want to return to the reality of being home. Not only was I leaving an amazing country and everyone in it behind — but also, as dramatic as it sounds, I felt as though I was leaving a part of myself.
It’s been several weeks since I’ve gotten back. I’ve resumed school, work, and student government, but the emptiness hasn’t quite disappeared. I still feel emotional whenever my mind wanders back to driving through the English countryside with my bestie, gorging on scones and clotted cream, or standing in beautiful King’s Cross Station.
I knew I had to somehow cope with these distracting, pervasive “post-vacation blues.” But while my heart still yearns to be back on the tube or walking by the Thames, I’ve slowly but surely readjusted to life back home. To those in a similar mood who have just returned from a holiday, here’s my advice for you.
Keep in touch
Saying goodbye is always difficult: Perhaps you made a connection with someone during your trip, or you visited old friends or relatives. Fortunately, platforms like FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp can help us keep the connection alive when we can no longer physically be together. Keeping in touch helps your departure feel less like a “goodbye,” and more like a “see you later.”
My best friend and I talk daily using WhatsApp, sending each other random pictures (the view from our window, what’s for lunch, strange occurrences at the metro station) or voice messages with stories from our day. While these things might seem mundane, they help me feel like I’m back in England, experiencing daily life with him.
Recreate experiences you had while away
One of the highlights of my England trip was my first afternoon tea, complete with a full pot of authentic English breakfast tea and Instagram-worthy cakes and sandwiches. I was surprised to find that there are in fact many places that offer afternoon tea in New York, and I’ve already made plans to stop by one of them on an upcoming weekend.
During my downtime, I like to watch videos of British quiz shows or comedians: The accents, senses of humor, and topics of discussion help transport me across the Atlantic. And when I feel especially sentimental, I scroll through my camera roll and peruse the photos I took during my trip, reliving moments that I will always hold dear.
Explore your own city
After three years living in Manhattan, there is still a lot of the city I’ve yet to explore. I recently met my mentor for lunch in the Financial District, and since I had free time afterwards, spontaneously wandered to Trinity Church where Alexander Hamilton is buried (a perfect tangent for me, a Broadway nerd and superfan of the musical “Hamilton”). Later that week, in a rare act, I left my Manhattan bubble and crossed boroughs to Brooklyn for the New York Transit Museum.
Exploring my own city helped quell my urges to go back on vacation, and made me more grateful for the beautiful city that I call home. Is there a place you continually drive or walk past but never visit? When you feel a thirst for adventure, give those previously-ignored places and their surrounding areas a second look. You might be surprised at what you find.
Plan your return
If all else fails and you can’t stop thinking about your last destination…start planning your return! I couldn’t wait — I made plans to study abroad and intern in London this summer, and am already thinking about which places I want to explore and revisit. I know, though, that even if my return date were uncertain, I would forever be grateful for the memories I made during my first time in England, and if I did return, that my best friend would always be there, ready to welcome me.
Originally published February 8, 2022.