Day 1 – A Brief Summary

Sites visited today: Kensington Garden + Palace, Peter Pan Statue, Tavistock Square (Peace Square), University of London, Russell Square Park

Kensington Garden

A new city, a new semester, and new adventures…

In less than 36 hours, I’ve flown from Portland to London, met my host family, settled into my home for the next three months, rode the Tube for the first time, met the lovely group of people I’ll be studying with, gone through orientation, and trekked around the beautiful and sunny (that’s right…sunny) London until blisters started forming on my feet. Even though I slept for a good eleven hours last night, I’m still wiped out tonight. At least I made it past 7 pm, unlike yesterday.

My host dad, Ken, is currently watching San Fran beat the Cowboys (what a surprise), so it’s safe to say that even though I’m thousands of miles away from Washington, I feel right at home here. With their kids and grandkids running in and out of the house, the place is never short on people or noise, but when a 2-year-old is running into your arms every couple of minutes to be tickled, the noise is never a problem. They’ve all been so nice and welcoming, I can tell that things are going to run smoothly around here. I have a housemate, Ellie, who is Harry Potter obsessed, so I can already tell that my start in the HP world from last semester will be continuing on in London.

The Tube, although an obviously easier form of travel here than car, is very similar to the Max Train in Portland, only on a much bigger scale with more people riding it, and of course much of it is underground. After orientation, which was just like any other orientation only in British accents, a group of us went out to start our exploration of central London. It was only a dent in the ultimate list of things to do in London, and even though I had no idea where I was 90% of the time, I’m starting to get my bearings.

As writer Paulo Coelho once said, the adrenaline and stress of an adventure are better than a thousand peaceful days. After only one day in London, I can already tell that each day here full of adventures will be worth a thousand lazy days.

Midnight Ramblings

A friend once told me that it doesn’t truly sink in that you’re going to a foreign country until you step off of the plane. It sounds like a clichĂ©, but I believed it as soon as I heard it. I’ve known for six months that I’ll be going to London, but after all this time, it still hasn’t sunk in. I’ve packed my suitcases and printed my boarding ticket and researched currency and customs and culture, but I don’t think there’s really any way to prepare yourself for that moment you step off the plane and find yourself in a brand new country, facing months of adventures and challenges you haven’t even imagined yet. Sounds a bit daunting, doesn’t it?

However…

Something I’ve noticed as I’ve been preparing for my trip is that whenever I tell someone I’m going to be studying abroad for a semester, they always ask me two things. 1- Am I excited? Well, obviously. 2- Am I scared? All I can do for this question is shake my head. “Not really,” I say, and I mean it. Do I think I’ll get lost trying to navigate the Tube for the first time? Absolutely. Will it be a bit overwhelming trying to fit into a culture I mainly know from Jane Austen novels? Most definitely. But it’s all part of the experience of traveling.

Expect the unexpected, right?

So I can say confidently that no, I’m not scared. I’m ready for you, London.