I guess I never really finished up blogging about studying abroad. Whenever I get a little bit of time to myself, my mind starts to wander thinking about what I miss about London. Even though I’ve spent more time back in the US than I spent abroad, I still find myself doing something very unAmerican occasionally, like writing “programme” instead of “program.” I constantly find myself going through the photos I have on my computer of everywhere I traveled. Right now I’m actually up in the stacks of the library supposed to be doing my accounting homework, but I started thinking about how different my go-to study spot is from mine from last year, causing me to come up with some of things I miss most about London.
1. My Study Spot – The front yard of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was where I did my homework. And I know you’re thinking, I loved being able to go on the grounds of Kensington Palace and sit by the garden right outside of the palace while doing my reading about British art history. One of my favorite times at Kensington Gardens was when I made friends with an elderly lady who was watching her grandson at football practice. We talked for hours and I actually didn’t get any studying done, but I loved making a park friend. My friend, Kelly, always said, “Ty doesn’t know a stranger, only potential friends,” this was very true of me abroad. The Texas Tech library isn’t that bad, but it certainly doesn’t come anywhere close to the beautiful Kensington Gardens in the fall with the crisp air and changing leaf colors.
2. My Sense of Adventure – Everyday was a new experience waiting to happen. So many times I just took off with my backpack and my camera and no plan on where to go or what to do. Sometimes the most exciting things happened, like when I accidentally walked all the way to Hammersmith and found myself walking down a street right next to Dame Helen Mirren. I never had a day to rest last fall; I was afraid on missing out on something. Even when I was terribly sick with a nasty cough, I couldn’t stay in bed. I would always be out and about, sightseeing, exploring a new market, or celebrity hunting with Sabrina.
3. My Home – For four months, I got to live like a royal. I was blessed to get to live in the most exclusive neighborhood in London. Lining my streets were Porsches, Ferraris, Land Rovers, and Bentleys. My dorm actually shared a wall with the French Ambassador’s townhouse, so that was cool. I was within walking distance of Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, Harrod’s, and the museums in South Kensington. Whenever I felt like venturing out a little further, I was only a few Tube stops away from Westminster Abbey, Tate Modern, Borough Market, and Buckingham Palace. Even though I was right in the center of London, you wouldn’t have guessed it. Where I lived was so residential and nothing like being in one of the largest cities in the world. The noisiest Queen’s Gate Terrace (my street) ever got was 6 o’clock in the morning whenever the hooves from the horses pulling carriages would hit the pavement outside my window. I loved to complain about the horse hooves, but now I think I would take that over the sound of cars and sirens from the freeway outside my window.
4. My Weekends – Traveling out of London was so easy with numerous airports and train stations less than an hour away from my dorm. Just about every other weekend I would jet off to somewhere new. I got to visit Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, the Swiss Alps, and the Welsh countryside. Even though RyanAir and EasyJet were miserably strict, it was worth the cramped flights and ridiculous rules, because I have now been to as many countries as US states. #worldtravelerstatus The time it would take me to get to Paris from my dorm is almost the same about of time it takes me to go back home from my apartment in Lubbock.
5. My Photo Shoots – I never left my dorm without my trusty Nikon. Rain or shine, I had it loaded up in my backpack. I was terrified that something exciting would happen and I would miss it due to my unreliable iPhone battery. Even if I just went for a stroll in the park, I would have my camera and find something interesting to take photos of-I don’t know how many photos I have of the leaves on the trees changing. After coming home, I went almost two months without taking any photos. When I realized it had been that long since I picked up my camera, I started to make a point to go out and find things to take photos of, even if it was just my dog.
I can easily say without a doubt that studying abroad was the best choice I have ever made. The memories I made in London will last a lifetime. It’s so weird to look back on the past few months and really think about all I was able to do. I got to spend time where my all-time favorite book and movie took place (Regents Park in 101 Dalmatians), visit more royal palaces than I can count on two hands, miss seeing David Beckham by two minutes…TWICE, jump off of cliffs in a Welsh national park, climb to the top of the Swiss Alps, visit the city where my Grandma grew up, watch the Scottish sunrise from the top of Arthur’s Seat, and spend a midnight in Paris with some of my now closest friends.
Coming back home was such a weird experience. Everything was how I left it, but somehow also different at the same time. London definitely changed me; I now know that sweats are not acceptable clothes to wear in public – thank you, Kelly. For awhile, it felt so weird to drive (especially on the right side of the road), have to deal with the out of control Lubbock weather, and not carry an umbrella with me everywhere. I no longer live within walking distance of three H&M’s – now the closest one to me is over five hours away. Even though I miss London, I am beyond happy to be back in Texas, the land of good Mexican food (and also my family and friends) even if that means less then beautiful study spots.