They say the dead never leave us. That’s a little morbid and doesn’t quite apply here, so I’m going to change it to, “Our friends and our experiences never leave us.” Sounds happier doesn’t it? I like happy.

It’s true in so many ways, too, that our friends never leave us. I’ve been back in the States for 6 weeks now (when will I stop counting?) and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my time in Aber. I can close my eyes and imagine Gorka in the kitchen, singing badly to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” as he cooks Spanish tortilla. I can close my eyes and feel the wind blowing Maxim and I into buildings on the Prom. I can see Saskia breaking a can opener and scissors just trying to get into a can of corn. I see Michael and Heather playing pool and eating chips with bacon on top out of sand castle buckets at the Inn on the Pier.

I see so many things if I stop and think of my time in Aber. I think about travelling, about friendships, love, learning and just… experiences. Sometimes they almost knock me over as I remember. Other times, I’ll be sitting, listening to a conversation when something reminds me of my year there and I’ll start giggling. For example, my flatmates and I were going out for a night on the town – it was Saskia’s birthday and my going-away party all at the same time. I had a bottle of water and was taking a sip when Martin laughed at me – I apparently stick my tongue in the mouth of the bottle before taking a sip. (Probably because I didn’t want to get water all down my shirt.) So fast forward a few weeks and I’m at home, driving Mom and she takes a sip of a water bottle. …And sticks her tongue in before taking a sip. Giggles ensued and I couldn’t, for the life of me, explain why it was so funny.

I have been thinking a lot about my three years in Maryland and if I’m making the right decision. I know I am. I know that if I returned to Aber, things would not be the same. I wouldn’t have my flat. I wouldn’t have MUN as it’s dying (or already dead) and there would be a pressure for me to get a job straight out of that one year Master’s. The decision to attend Maryland was made when I was upset at someone and didn’t want to ever see them again. The decision was made because I thought I would never truly fit in in the UK and it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a UK-Library certified Master’s instead of a US-Library associated Master’s. And I know, while the upset at the person thing, was a stupid reason. I really did make the right decision.

I’ve been coming to peace with the fact I won’t see many of my friends from Aber for another few years, if ever again. But they haven’t left me. Facebook and Skype are amazing, beautiful things. I have weekly Skype dates with Michael and Heather and go on Michael’s radio show to find out what’s going on in Aberystwyth and across Wales. And I’ve started sending letters. Because who doesn’t love mail?

I haven’t decided what program I’m going to do my PhD in – if I’m staying at Maryland or going to an entirely new school. And I’ve been thinking, maybe going to the UK is an option. But I also know that I will make the best decision for me, for my career and for my life. My friends are a huge part of that, but I’ve got time to decide. And if our friends and those memories never leave me, they can sustain me throughout the few years between visits. 🙂