London, You Are Missed.
A little over two weeks ago, I left England. At first, I was excited to leave to go home and see my family: I have a really good summer plan and I was looking forward to starting it! My first week back was amazing seeing my family, especially my little brother who is much bigger than when I last saw him. Coming back to America was easy; the weather here is much warmer than in Europe and I picked up driving again like I hadn’t stopped for four months.
It hasn’t hit me until the past few days how much I miss everything about London. I miss fighting the crowds to get to the Tube, miss my runs through Hyde Park, and I miss the twenty minute walk to my internship. I miss Tesco (our local grocery store) runs, late night Kebab sessions, and even the guy in our neighborhood who would play the drums and tell you to “move your body” in his Jamaican accent. I will miss seeing celebrities on a regular basis and seeing sights I never dreamed of. I miss the train rides through the English countryside, I miss pub crawls, seeing the London Eye far off in the distance, and having something to look forward to every week in the way that only a big city can offer. Most of all though, I miss my housemates. I miss my roommates: Kat complaining about how she needs to stop eating ice cream and Michaela going on long rants about her boss. I miss hearing music blast from Jake Brody’s room and hearing Lucy play on her ukulele when she actually had the time to practice. I miss complaining about the mystery person that didn’t do their dishes or flush the toilet. I miss running into five different people on my way to the kitchen or having Domino’s wing night with Jake and Kasey in the common room.
Why did I choose to study abroad in London? Easy. It was the only place in the world that I really wanted to go to. I am actually a huge history nerd: Tudor history to be exact, which includes King Henry VIII and all the drama that stems from such a terrible person. It has always been a goal of mine to see all the places that I had grown up reading about and luckily enough, I was able to do all that. My favorite place that I visited throughout my whole time abroad was the Tower of London, because it was the prime location that I had read about: a place where royalty were pampered, but also a place where traitors to the crown were imprisoned. It’s a fortress that’s about a thousand years old where the royal armories used to be and where the city of London really stemmed from. The first time I went, I stood in the main courtyard looking at the spot where three queens had been beheaded and got goosebumps realizing how important of a place I was in. I loved the Tower of London so much I ended up going three times all together and learned new things every time I went.
While my snapchat story may make it seem like I spent more time having fun then actually doing school work, I learned a lot during my study abroad experience. During my internship at a mental health facility, I learned how to work with individuals that suffered from mental disorders and the treatment plans to go along with those disorders. At work, I learned about British cultural customs and lifestyles through my coworkers. Through my British Art and Architecture class, I saw new parts of London through museums and places that I never would have seen without the instruction of my teacher. My Shakespeare in London class let me experience how plays in Shakespeare’s day would have been performed by seeing plays in a candlelit and intimate theater. Through my Community and Culture class I learned a serious problem facing London is gentrification: this means that big businesses are buying property in the city and are raising the costs of living, but in doing this they are forcing people to move outside of the city since they cannot afford it. London is losing its self-identity in certain neighborhoods to corporate businesses and to live in London is a true financial struggle; a prime example of this is a woman I worked with would have to make a two hour train commute from Oxford to London because it cost too much money to live closer to the city.
My favorite thing about London though is how historical it is. Throughout the city are blue plaques telling you that a famous person lived in this location during a certain time period; not long ago, I was walking with my roommate Kat by our school and we passed a place that Charles Darwin had lived at one point! London is great and will obviously hold a special place in my heart forever. It’s crazy to think that a month ago, I was just coming back from Italy or that even three months ago I was in Brussels. Life will certainly be much calmer, probably a little dull, after such an exciting time abroad. But, while a lot of things in Europe will be missed, I’m happy to be back in Washington State where I don’t have to worry about time zones, exchange rates, and where my loved ones are only a short drive away.