It’s official. I live in London. I have been here for 40 days. I honestly could not tell you where the time has gone. I think time waved and laughed as it passed me somewhere on the tube. Regardless, I know I’m a local when I start complaining about tourists. Which is a funny concept to me because a month ago that was me, and technically still is. I like to believe I’m a local now and not just another tourist. People are always navigating the tube with large amounts of luggage and getting in everyone’s way. They are pushing through to the nearest maps or standing in the middle of the crowd looking for the quickest escape and sadly I have little tolerance for them. Why don’t they know this by now? If I can shouldn’t they? When I step back and really think about what I’m complaining about I just smile and laugh. I really am a local now. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. My friends and I give each other quick glances of disapproval any time people postpone our travel even by a few seconds. At least I can laugh about the situation with someone else.
But this is confession time. I might be able to navigate the tube like a champ, but I am lost if you asked me to catch the bus or worse, walk. I am already hesitant going anywhere by myself, but if I know the tube will be closed I make sure to stick with my navigation savvy friends. It is just too darn cold to stay above ground for extended periods of time. That’s my excuse anyway. I have felt my blood thickening from this cold weather in London. It is certainly a different climate from South Carolina that’s for sure. But my next big step is walking the streets of London and stumbling on the little treasures London has to offer. I know back at home my favorite places are the hole-in-the-wall places. I’m sure I can find some great places if I just man up and brave the cold.
Midterms are rapidly approaching which is a new concept for me. Back at Wofford we have a “Midterm” time during the semester that is slammed full of tests, classes, papers, and assignments. It is a nightmare. Here I have a whole week off of classes with 3 papers, 1 formative assessment (not graded), and 2 presentations. Not that this is a light load, but with a week off from class and 2 weeks to complete these assignments, I am on cloud 9. Not to mention at the end of midterms my 8 week course at the University of Oxford will be complete. I will have completed a course at OXFORD. Not many people can say they have done that. Plus, that is one less course to worry about for the last month of my time in London. Oxford has been rigorous to say the least, and I know I can speak for the other people in my program when I say we will be happy when we don’t have a 1500 word research paper due every Thursday at noon. Though I have enjoyed Oxford. It is absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen Oxford in the snow and sun and have fallen in love with the University town. Can I just stay there until I leave for Jamaica in April??
Also, at the end of midterms my travels officially begin. I have 2 trips back to back. One to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day and then off to Munich. The main incentive to study abroad, besides my Health Practice program, was for travel. I am hours from a multitude of countries and cultures. I have to capitalize on my location and the accessibility of travel. And don’t worry. I have a great group of mates just as excited for travel as I am.
As I was reflecting on the New Year I knew this would be my year to see the world and I am doing just that. Not only am I seeing the world, but I’m experiencing it. If you think about the difference between seeing and experiencing you will understand just how much my trip has meant to me thus far. My parents made the joke when I came home from my freshman year that Wofford kidnapped their daughter and sent them back the wrong girl. I have no idea who they will pick up from the airport in April. Studying abroad is the experience I needed to bring a new holistic perspective on my life. I love my time here in London. I keep saying I am just homesick enough to make sure I return to America in April. Otherwise, I might be taking up residency in Oxford!
Do you know the feeling you get when the older you get the smarter your parents seem to be? I’ve already accepted that fact, but I’m noticing just how RIGHT everyone was about the “study abroad experience”. I’m hitting that complacent stage here in London and have become acclimated to the culture here, even though I still can’t fake a British accent. I received a great bit of advice before I left that I will now share. The first 3 and last 3 weeks of study abroad are a whirlwind. The best part is the time in between when you really enjoy living in your new home. I thank all of the people who have made my first month here such a rollercoaster experience. I’m getting by with a little help from my friends…