Holy cow, so much has happened in these past two days I don’t even know where to start!
First off, yes, I’m having an AMAZING time for all who are asking (and thankyou for asking and caring family and friends)! The amount of life lessons I’ve learned and growth I’ve had from learning more about culture, diversity, independence and myself is beyond measurable and what was expected this early on. I’ve already gotten lost, made mistakes, traveled alone, figured out public transportation and better decision-making skills, become more confident in myself and what I’m capable of than ever before. Living in a city like London on your own can definitely be compared to jumping both feet over a cliff into deep waters!
Yesterday started off pretty hectic-I had to ride the bus for the first time across town to find the building my CEA orientation was in. Unfortunately, I misunderstood getting off at “Oxford Circus Station” and “Oxford Circus” and had to walk almost 2 miles to the building. I was 15-25 minutes late (still not quite sure if it started at 9:45 or 10 a.m.) just to found out we weren’t in that building and I had JUST missed my group leaving (and no, he did not see where they went). I don’t have data while abroad because it was expensive, so I had to find the nearest free wifi (thankyou British Museum..which is also FREE and HUGE), and waited 15 minutes to hear back from my coordinator that they walked another mile to a new building. I figured I was already late enough, so I grabbed a yummy bagel and OJ and enjoyed the walk taking some pics along the way.
After orientation, we went out to lunch at a local pub having a Sunday Roast meal that consisted of chicken, gravy, stuffing, vegetables, and potatoes. We also had free cheesecake, yum! There are eight of us in my CEA July program, and they are all AWESOME and ALL FROM THE SOUTH! So I’m the lone Midwestern kiddo, but I don’t mind at all. A few of them have a little twang in their accents, and I love it too! There’s Sienna from Mississippi, Juliette and Turner from New Orleans (twins), Emma from South Carolina, Bekah from South Carolina, Jack from Alabama, and Dani from Florida. We all get along great, it is such a blessing!
We had a slight miscommunication on time for our evening event, our coordinator thought it was at 4 p.m. but it was actually at 6 p.m. So we had four free hours to walk around town (thinking we only had two after brunch) but it ended up being great because we were able to see some beautiful building and classic places like Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. London is currently having a heat wave (and no where has AC…it’s been an adjustment and I had to buy a fan for my room), but it still is so beautiful outside and around.
During our three weeks here we have two social programs-one through CEA where it’s just the eight of us and one through Westminster where all students taking summer courses there can attend. That evening we had our first Westminster event, which was going on the London Eye and headed to hangout at a local pub later to get to know one another. I was able to meet some amazing students from all over the world…talk about opening up and expanding my horizons at the same time. There are two guys from Denmark here named Kasper and Andreas, both extremely kind and fun to hangout with. Then there is Pierre from France who is here to learn better English. I ended up going on the London Eye with Dani, Jack, Pierre, Kasper, and Andreas-what a surreal experience! Afterwards our group met up to hangout at the pub with the other students then grabbed dinner together at a takeout asian place around 10:30 p.m.
Another lesson and growing moment, I had to figure out how to get home at 11:30 p.m. from my friends’ hall to mine (about 3.5 miles apart). I had four options-see if the Tube was running, take the bus if it was running (I didn’t know evening schedules yet), take an Uber or take a taxi (both a bit expensive). I decided to be cheaper and adventurous and take the bus (still a bit nervous to by myself, especially at night), but it was a great experience and I made it home safe and sound.
All in all, it was a long day of walking, adventure, mistakes, and fun. I walked around 13-14 miles in one day and my feet were aching harder than they ever had, but it was all worth it. I will write about my third day (today as I’m reflecting on yesterday) tomorrow for everyone. Below is a pano I got from the London Eye…I love it!
Thank you for reading and staying in touch. If you have an questions about London you want answered or are curious about a certain experience, just message me!
P.S. My random photo of the day is a keychain I found at the Westminster Abbey store, Fraser is apparently an English last name and has significant meaning!