Two weeks ago today, a thirteen-hour plane ride brought me home from three months of excitement and adventure. The London Semester Program was a great blessing to me in more ways that I can articulate, but it feels wonderful to be back in my beloved homeland. Everything I’ve said about the trip so far has been expository because I’ve been too busy and frenzied to write much about reflection, but I’d like to do so now.
Before I do that, though, I want to catch you up on what has happened since my last blog post. Yes, it was a full month ago the last time I posted. No, I’m not going to apologize for that anymore. I’ve realized recently that if I’m going to make my blog what I want it to be, I have to post because I want to, not because I feel obligated to.
Lots happened in London during the month of April: Easter, a weekend excursion to Belfast, Northern Ireland, Shakespeare in Love, a day trip to Brighton, The Play That Goes Wrong, finals, pizza parties, a day visit to Kew Gardens, flying back to the States… I’m only going to talk about some of it.
Easter in London was bittersweet. Easter is always a beautiful day of the year, but it was hard spending it away from my family and my home church because I’ve never done that before. My trip to Northern Ireland the following weekend was incredible, though. I got to visit Queen’s University in Belfast as well as lots of other lovely places, and even better than that was the opportunity to relax for the weekend with none of the pressures of a busy schedule.
Brighton was also breathtakingly beautiful. It made me wish we had rock beaches here in the US. I also had the best fish and chips of the whole semester there because the fish was brought in fresh less than an hour before it was served to me.
Finals week was a mixture of fun and frustration, which made me feel right at home since finals week is always like that. The frustration, of course, comes from the stress of studying for your actual final exams, but the fun comes from a strange craving for adventure that is born when you do everything in your power to get away from the stress of studying for a little while.
In London, this craving was even stronger than usual because it was the final week of our trip, so we wanted to fit in as much adventure as possible before it ended. We went back to some of our favorite places in the city one more time as well as visiting places we hadn’t had a chance to see yet. I also got a second hole in my ears.
The final Saturday before our return was an open day, so I spent mine at Kew Gardens. Kew is home to the largest collection of living plants in the world. I took nearly two hundred pictures there, but I’ll spare you more than one in this post. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the photos, you can find them in my London album on Facebook.
It was a wild ride from start to finish, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I was going to say that I feel like a different person than I was when it all began, but really I just feel like I’ve become more of myself, or at least more of who I’m meant to be. I’ve grown so much as a person through this experience and learned so many lessons.
Being an ocean away from so many of the people I care about was difficult to say the least, and I missed everyone like crazy, but it forced me to stand on my own two feet, and I’m so grateful for that. I feel so much more competent and grown up than I was before. I know I’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s nice to actually feel like my adult life is starting.
I also became a lot more adventurous and spontaneous through the London Semester, and that’s something I intend to hold onto. I’ve always believed it’s important to see the beauty in life’s little everyday adventures, but I think this semester has given me a lot of insight into how I can better put that belief into practice.
As I mentioned before, as much as I enjoyed my time in London, it’s good to be home. The past two weeks have been full of all sorts of hustle and bustle with visiting some of my friends at MC, going to graduations, helping with fundraisers for Cornerstone Christian Academy to go to ACE International Convention, and having a root canal, but it’s felt good to be a part of my home culture again.