Saturday, December 17, 2011

The End...

So it's here. The end. The end of my study abroad experience.

For the past week I kept asking myself what single event would signify the end of the experience. I came up with a bunch of different answers, but today I really figured it out. I was looking out the window as the plane was making its final decent, I saw the clouds and then the ground. We got closer and close, and I felt myself getting more and more anxious. And then, the wheels hit the ground and I let out the biggest sigh. That was it. The plane touching down was the moment that ended it. I realized that on the way there it was takeoff that made it feel real. But once we hit the ground, that was it.

I can go on and on about how fantastic this experience was. Our first week was like a vacation where we got to hang out, see the sights, drink at pubs...everything. We got acclimated to our flats and life in London. I missed home a bunch. I missed family and friends. It felt a bit like freshman year all over again, because we didn't know how to do things and were struggling to find classrooms. What I didn't realize, is the life that I was acclimating to would be one that would teach me so much about myself and the world around me. I've said it a million times, but you do change when you go abroad. You grow and mature and come back a different person. Sure, studying abroad is about the classes you take and the places you go to visit, but it is also about learning who you are.

Though I have been to London twice before this trip, I got to do so much more this time (obviously, since I was there for three months). I saw Stonehenge and Bath. I took a weekend trip to Paris. I went to Prague and Vienna with two of my closest friends. And I got to return to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the first place I ever went in the United Kingdom. I got to play at a pub in London for tons of people I didn't know. And most importantly, I made and strengthened friendships that will last for a long time. There are so many things that studying abroad gives you. You gain knowledge about life. You gain respect for the life which we are blessed to live back in the United States. So much respect. I never felt more proud to be an American than when I saw ridiculous things happening in London.

I'm not sure what else there is to say. I'm sitting here in my room in America thinking about how I was in my flat in London this morning. I'm thinking about how I want to go and hang out with my friends, but I can't because we have all gone home. I still can't believe this is over. But when I see my friends back at school, it will feel so good to be home. It actually already feels good to be home. It was so nice seeing my parents.

If anyone who is reading this is on the fence about studying abroad, stop thinking and do it. I promise, you will not regret it.

I am so thankful for this experience. I am so thankful that my parents were able to send me to London for 3 months. Mom and Dad, this experience would NEVER have happened without you. I will never be able to repay you for what you have given me.

Well...that's it. Thank you to all who have been reading and following my journey. London, you will now and always hold a special place in my heart.

I'm going to end with the chorus to a song I wrote while I was in London titled, "Madame London"

"So long to the cobblestone streets,
Farewell to rainy days and soaked brick walls,
'cause I'm going above ground soaring high in the sky
On a plane tonight
So wave goodbye to Madame London."

The End.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Time To Go Home

So here it is...the end of my study abroad experience. I can not believe that this time has actually come.

I realized there would be no way I could sleep before this flight. I decided just to stay up and shower at about 3am to wake myself up. It worked. I've been throwing things away (sheets, towels...etc) and cleaning the room. Bringing back to the state it was in when I first arrived. (Don't worry...I'll take a picture)

This has been the most incredible experience in my life. I can't believe that I was considering not studying abroad. I have learned so much, not only academics wise, but also about myself. I feel like a different person than when I first got here. And I've had a few people come up to me and tell me the same thing...they notice that I'm a good way. My mind is filled with memories of this incredible place. I got to live in London for three months. I got to travel to Paris, Prague and Vienna. I got to do so many incredible things......

Ugh, ok I can't keep typing this. I'm starting to tear up a little bit. Plus I'm kind of tired and want to spend this last hour with my friend (who will be in the car with me anyway...). I'm going to write a post probably on Sunday once I'm home. Or maybe Saturday once I land....we'll see how tired I am.

But there's one thing I need to say in this post that can't wait....

Goodbye London. Thank you for all you have taught me. You will always hold a special place in my heart. A place of comfort and joy. Words can not express how grateful I am for this experience. And though I may be leaving, I know I will be back to see you again. But until that time comes, stay well and stay strong.

It's time for me to go home. It's time for me to go back to my family and friends and all the people who I care about and who care about me. And as much as I don't want this to end, I know it wouldn't be as special unless it did.

Goodbye London....Goodbye.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

3 days to go...

I can not believe that I have (well by now less than) three days left in London. I feel like I've been here for so long, but at the same time like I just got here.

The beginning of this week was filled with last minute things. It started with finishing up end of term work that I had to do. Yesterday (Tuesday) I went with a friend to go shopping in Hyde Park and Camden Market. We kind of just wanted one last look at the places...and they are always great places to buy some stuff. That night, a few of us went to the Hobgoblin to enjoy some Thai food there one last time. It's funny, I remember the first time we went there I kept thinking how this used to be where all of the people from last year went. They were walking around, drinking, making memories and having fun. Then it became ours. And now, it's time for us to leave and for it to become someone else's. I really will miss that place. I think on Friday, we will all spend our last few hours just hanging around there. It just has such a great atmosphere. 

Today, I had my London Theatre class for the last time. We finished talking about the shows we saw and started talking about design in theatre and what not. At the end, he said he wishes us a safe journey back home. That was when it really hit me...I'm going home. This experience of a lifetime is ending. As hard as it may have been leaving to come here, it's going to be incredibly hard to go back home. 

Tonight, we are going to the student union club, Club Sandwich, for one last dance night. We just want to relax, have fun, and enjoy one of our last nights here. 

As much as I miss home, I have no idea how I'm going to say goodbye to this place...

3 days...

Monday, December 12, 2011


This past weekend was my last trip during my semester abroad.

My Shakespeare class professor decided to take us to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. We were all really excited (partially because the school paid for our tickets and all the entrance fees to things). But for me, it was really special for a different reason.

During my first trip to London, the first place we went after getting off the plane was Stratford-upon-Avon. That was the first place I had ever been in the country. It was the start of my fantastic journey's through all London and England have to offer. A bit of nostalgia hit when I went back.

We had to wake up very early to get there. It was a day trip so our train left a little before 9am so we could have a full day. Once we got there, we got to see all of the different shakespeare trust properties including his birth place, his other houses and where he is buried. All that time, we were walking through this beautiful town.

It was weird because it looked a lot different than I remembered. I can't figure out if that was because we just didn't go to the areas we went to this time or if the place really changed. It still had the "old town" feel, but it seemed different. That being said, last time I was there we spent almost all of our time at the RSC theatre. (Royal Shakespeare Company) We didn't get to see any shows there this time because there were only children's shows playing. I felt bad for everyone else because their work was amazing last time I saw it.

We ended the day with tea at a place called The Fourteas. It was designed to look like a 40s style tea house. Kind of cool. And the tea was delicious.

The only bad part to the day was getting home. When we got back to Marylebone Station, some of us decided to take a bus back because it was direct. We waited for about 20mins, and the bus never came. We finally just decided to take the tube. Got on. Made our 1st connection. And then we got to Canada Water to switch to the London Overground. Got on the train....and it broke. Everyone had to get off so they could take the train out of service. We waited for a while, thinking it wouldn't take long...but it did. So we got back on the tube, went to London Bridge, and had to get a national rail train one stop to New Cross Gate. From New Cross Gate to Stratford-upon-Avon it took about 2hrs 30mins. On the way took almost 4 hours. Not fun.

I can't believe that this is the last trip on this semester journey. But like I said, I don't think I could have picked a better place to end.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Churchill War Rooms

Forgot to post about the war rooms. So here's a quick post about them.

Went to see them on Tuesday. They were really cool! Walking around underground in the places where a historical war was run from was incredible. Plus, seeing the quarters they were confined to...I don't know how they did it. It is amazing to me that they were able to do what they did without the technology that we have today.

As we were leaving, Steve and I saw a protest going on in front of 10 Downing Street. It was a protest about democratic reform in the D.R. Congo. Standing in the middle of a protest, watching people fight for what they believe in...I've never seen something like it. It wasn't violent (while we were there at least...not sure what happened after we left) which is what made it even more powerful. After we had lunch, we came out and the group had doubled in size. They had taken over the street and the police were forced to close the roads. Pretty incredible.

War Rooms, protests....kind of a cool day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

10 Days...

Well here we go. 10 more days until I fly back to the states. It's really getting even more unreal that I'm leaving at this point. It's unreal that I'll be saying goodbye to this place. Though it's not goodbye to London, I know I'll be back here at some point in my life. There is great theatre here that I will be back to see. But saying goodbye to a school that I've only spent one semester at? Saying goodbye to some of the friends I've made here? Getting used to American culture again? That's all going to be really hard.

10 Days....

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Two Weeks Left...

It's really hard to believe that I have only two weeks left here in London. My previous trips to London were both for a week. So I know how quickly these weeks will fly. But while I will miss it here, I will be very happy to be back in the United States.

Today I went to Portobello Road to walk around the market. I went with some friends a few weeks ago but it wasn't on a saturday when the real market comes to life. I had however been there on one of my previous trips so I remembered how awesome the place was. As always there are tons of cool things to buy, but I was good (especially since I was alone and didn't have anyone telling me not to buy things). I bought a cool bronze piano sculpture that actually has a pencil sharpener in it and a brass key hook that says "Keys & Things" for my parents. I also bought a cool compass that I saw. It was very cheep for what it was but still looks really cool. My entire time here I have been the navigator for my group of friends, always the one carrying the map, so I thought it would fit nicely.

I realize now that this was my last Saturday in London. Next Saturday I'll be going to Stratford-Upon-Avon with my Shakespeare class and the Saturday after that I'll be flying home. It's really weird thinking about that. But for now, it's time to finish up the work so I can go home.

13 days....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do You Hear The People Sing?

Tonight I got to see a friend from home in London, my friend Jenn. When I saw her before we both left for London she said, "We have to see a show together." When I found out she hadn't seen Les Miserables, I KNEW that's what we were going to see. It is after all my favorite musical!

So after trying and failing to make plans, we finally got our stuff together and got tickets for tonight. We also made dinner plans before the show.

First off, couldn't find the restaurant because the map on their website was totally it took us about 30mins to find the place. But once we did we were happy. Great Japanese food there.

Then we headed to the show. We got seats in the upper circle, so pretty high up. Here's a view from where we were....

The seats turned out to be pretty decent. Sure we saw some things over the barricade that we weren't supposed to but so it goes. The show was fantastic as it always is. This was actually one of the better versions I've seen. Topped the revival on Broadway, but not the 25th Anniversary concert. I mean honestly, that one's hard to beat. Still the night was fantastic. The music brings me chills every time and tonight it did not fail.

Basically a fantastic night out in London.

15 days.....