Walking Through History: Thoughts from London by Colette Whitney

Colette Whitney is a student at Ohio University. She is currently studying in London, England at the University of Westminster.

When I began the process of choosing where I would like to study abroad, I considered many different factors. The potential language barriers, culture, history, literature and universities of each country that I was choosing from. I chose to go to England because I thought it would personally offer me the most. I very much love English literature and the works of Jane Austen and Shakespeare and, not to be forgotten, J.K. Rowling and I have always been most interested in the different eras of English history. It’s so much different from ours, so much stricter at times and so much cooler at times. I wanted to learn more about these things that have always intrigued me, and London was the place to do it.

My first week here was filled with managing the Tube and school and my living situation, but after that, things settled down. Every night, I sat down with one of my guidebooks, and would pick out a sight that I would visit the next day. This is a good system that I really recommend if you’re overwhelmed with the great possibilities of the things you can do in a big city. I went to lots of historic  and touristy sites like Buckingham Palace, The British Museum, St. James’s Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral and many others. But the two that stuck out most to me were the Jane Austen House museum and Kensington Palace. The Jane Austen museum was brilliant. It was the house that she retired to and wrote books and it is also where they were published. This month, they celebrated the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice so they had special exhibits up and it was incredible. I felt close to her and her stories in a way unique to the museum and it was an experience that all fans of Austen should have. Kensington Palace was equally amazing. They have three exhibits occurring now: a tour of the King’s Chambers, the Queen’s Chambers and a look at Queen Victoria’s life called “Victoria Revealed”. Before my visit to the palace, I knew little about Queen Victoria, who she was, or what she did. But at Kensington, I learned so much about her! She was, to me, one of the most impressive female rulers of all time. And her life story was intriguing, at times scary, and romantic. The rest of the palace was also unbelievable. Every ceiling was as ornate as you can imagine, tall and colorful with beautiful paintings covering every inch.

As I walked through Jane Austen’s house and Kensington Palace, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to have this experience. I got to literally walk through history. They were humbling and important experiences, and I am certain I will never forget them.

Studying abroad forces you out of your comfort zone in every way, and it can be pretty scary. But the payoff are these beautiful experiences that can change the way you look at certain aspects of life and history and culture and it is completely worth it.

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