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London: It was emotional!

expatlife london tck university Jan 02, 2024

As the plane touched down in London, I couldn't help but feel a whirlwind of emotions. This was not just another trip; it was a journey to drop off my son Ibrahim for his first year at university. Born a TCK, he is well travelled young man, who has also lived in 5 different countries - I knew he would be fine but I couldn't help and feel nervous. The four days that followed were a mix of excitement, nostalgia, happiness, worry and the inevitable sadness of saying goodbye.

Our suitcases were filled with the essentials from Dubai, but there were still items to be checked off the list. On our first afternoon there we started navigating the bustling streets of London to gather the remaining items for his new life, and most importantly to get his phone connected with a local line! Having lived in the UK many years ago made everything feel familiar yet foreign at the same time.

The next day we visited my sons university, where we collected his room key and navigated our way to his building and up to the last floor to his room, the view is lovely from his large window, also keeping the room bright. We both liked the feel of his room, so it was a positive start. We unpacked and cleaned, making his room feel more cosy and welcoming. Venturing into the communal kitchen we unpacked Ibrahim’s items into the dedicated spaces given to each student, which was not a lot and it seemed we purchased too much - will he even use it? :) 

Amidst the hustle, we spent time together walking the iconic streets of London and strolling through historic neighbourhoods. London's unpredictable weather caught us with a sudden rain pour, luckily we were able to find a spot at a nearby restaurant and have lunch, however the rain persisted, so we ventured out and found a nearby souvenir shop where we purchased an umbrella and started to make our way back to the hotel.

Meeting old friends added a layer of nostalgia to our trip. Reconnecting with those who had been a part of our lives when we lived in the UK brought a sense of continuity and warmth. Together we visited the vibrant Borough market, savouring the unique experiences that only London can offer. I also caught up with a very special friend who moved to London, chatting over coffee and lunch sharing our news - the beauty of expat life!

However, the bittersweet reality of the trip unfolded on the evening my son spent his first night at university and a quiet loneliness settled in. I ordered room service and ate it sitting in bed to feel the warmth, the TV on providing some noise in the background in what would otherwise be a quiet room. If the circumstances were different I would have been relishing the moment of solitude in a hotel, but this was different, it was emotionally hard.

The following morning I sat at the cafe across from the hotel sipping on my coffee, trying to not let my emotions overcome me in public. The tears had already been flowing for weeks before this moment, but living the reality was hitting hard. The inevitable moment to say goodbye arrived, and we walked to the train station together, it was time to let go. Uncontrollable tears streamed down my face as we hugged tightly, not wanting to let go but I had to. We parted as we walked towards our train only to find ourselves standing across each other on the platform. I was a sobbing mess.

My train arrived, and I hopped on, waving goodbye as it started moving, a moment etched in my memory. Tears blurred my vision, but the journey had to continue. The trip to London was quick, but we created memories during those four days – a poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of time and the beauty of shared moments.

- Written by Navine Eldesouki