My trip to London, England was almost indescribable. I experienced more in two months than I have ever experienced in an entire year of school in the United States. It was an experience I will never forget, and I feel confident in saying that it has changed me forever.
I have always had preconceived notions about what Great Britain would be like. I’ve dreamed of visiting the historic country since I was a young child and as I grew older I realized that all of my glamorous and exciting visions of London were probably a little off. Yet, as I boarded the plane two months ago, there was still a little part of me that saw London as I pictured it as a child – bright lights, small alleyways filled with pubs and men smoking pipes, old-fashioned buildings, and streets bustling with attractive Brits.
Obviously I was a little disillusioned. There were bright lights, but not everywhere. There were plenty of old-fashioned buildings, but just as many brand new skyscrapers and condos. Alleyways were in abundance, but many were empty or filled with dumpsters, not quaint pubs. Men smoked, but mainly cigarettes, not pipes or cigars. And the streets were filled with people, but they were of all nationalities speaking what seemed like a million different languages, and I rarely heard the charming British accent while walking down the street.
Even with these differences between reality and my imagination, London was not diminished in my eyes. If anything, these differences made it better. It may not have matched my expectations but the culture I experienced while there was overwhelming.
I loved being able to go to multiple shows each week without it being a huge ordeal to get downtown. With museums on what seemed like every corner, and theaters filling street upon street I felt immersed in art. It was like heaven, considering I have always loved the performing arts, and being in such an influential city for the arts was a dream come true.
The whole experience felt surreal. It didn’t seem like it was my life and it went by way too fast. When I arrived home, I wasn’t overly excited to see my house or my family! I had missed them, but I felt like my time in London was meant to last longer. I truly felt at home in England, and fell so in love with the country that it’s been hard to adjust to living in the United States again, and I’m still working on it. My second day home, I caught a glimpse of the TV just as a shot of Big Ben came across the screen in a movie my mom was watching. It was like being punched in the stomach. I had just seen it in person two days before, and now I was thousands of miles away, seeing it on a tiny television screen. I felt immense sadness, but I also smiled. I realized I was able to experience things many people in this world will never get to experience and I did it all before I was 21 years old. I am so lucky to have been able to be a part of this program, and it has made me a different person. My thoughts about the world have changed, as well as my overall view of life. The world is so big, I am so small, and someday I hope to explore it all.