Friday, December 21, 2012

Well, that about wraps it up

The main source of my travels: South Kensington Station
In my last week in London, I knew I wouldn't see very many new things, so I wanted to simply revisit my favorite places. I ate at my favorite shops and cafes, shopped along the best streets, walked through my favorite gardens and in the area around my flat. I said goodbye to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben and all of those other monumental aspects of the City of London. I made my peace with the city, and I will miss every part of it. 
A positive outlook: not an "exit" but a "way out"
London thus far has more than exceeded my expectations. I arrived a tourist, eager to do everything and see everything, but I have transformed into a resident. Of course I don’t know all of the best, hottest spots in London just because I’ve been here for four months, but I know all of my own favourites. I’ll miss the little corner cafes, quiet enough to read or just think about whatever is on your mind. I’ll miss the gardens and the parks strewn throughout the bustling city streets, I’ll miss walking through them and gazing at London’s nature. I’ll miss having free or at least relatively cheap, access to museums and galleries easily whenever I want to learn something new when I’m feeling dull. I’ll miss the quirky, dry humour of the general British population that parallels my own in a way I never expected. I’ll miss the quick, easy transportation into Europe, with deals I may never again find. They allowed me to see parts of the world that now mean so much to me, that living in the U.S. has deprived me from. Believe it or not, I will miss the public transportation. It was so well-organized, clean and usually dependable. I don’t know what I’ll do without all of the trendy fashion Londoners tend to sport, as I doubt I’ll be able to pull it off at the country club that is Elon. The secret shops down narrow alleyways will forever possess my desire to be an edgy fashionista, and there is no replacement that could be found in the U.S. 
See: London policemen doing their jobs without guns! We could all learn something here...

The glorious Round Pond in Kensington Gardens
I’ve truly enjoyed my classes, even though I actually found them quite difficult at times, contrary to my study abroad predecessors, who claimed this would be the easiest semester of my life. I really had to work hard and study and think about what I was writing to adhere to British standards, and it forced me to analyze my own thoughts and views to allow me to improve upon them. My internship has also taught me a great deal both culturally and professionally. For instance, I never knew I could drink so much tea and coffee in a day, or that I really don’t understand British English and I need to ask people multiple times to repeat themselves. Obviously this has been a frustrating aspect, feeling as though I can’t comprehend my native language. However, I realized that happened to me even in Elon when I was totally confused by thick Southern accents, so that justified the issue. In all seriousness, my placement in my internship at The Children’s Society has taught me an exponential amount about both British culture and my hopeful career in media. Although my role was based largely on Public Relations and press contacts during these past seven weeks, the fact that I was able to gain knowledge in the communications industry in general was good enough for me.   

The greatest gift of mankind. Boots Pharmacy. 
I have always been a wanderer, making this city the perfect setting for my curiosity and desire to learn. There was never something that I just went and gazed at just for the sake of saying I'd been there and seen whatever it was. I took away something from absolutely every statue I saw, every painting I tried to interpret, every pub I went to and every person I met. Each was unique and inspiring and altered my perception of the world and my placement in it. I am baffled as to how I will be able to go on without each of these at my fingertips for the rest of my life, but I really don't have to. I am leaving London with the knowledge that I really can go out and find things to do on a Monday afternoon when I have nothing else going on. There will always be some poet that needs to be pondered or some road that needs to be walked down. If you seek out knowledge and passion, you will find it.  If you want to teach and invoke that passion, you can achieve it. I can't say I expected London to enrich my life in the way it did, but I also can't say I'm not content with that enrichment. 
The quintessentially-British phone booth at Queen's Gate of Kensington Gardens
The only way I can express my adoration and appreciation for London is entirely through cliches: It changed my life. It made me who I am today. It was the experience of a lifetime. It is irreplaceable. I may never know what my outlook on life might be had I not chosen London out of the many Fall 2012 Study Abroad options. Would I be impacted positively if I had decided on Florence, or Barcelona or Munich? Of course, but it would not be in the same way. I can never say I had any regrets about my time here because if I hadn't had those imminent struggles along the way, it would have been too perfect and I would've assumed something strange was going on. I'm almost all packed up, ready to print my tickets and get on the plane to see the friends and family I've missed so much. Of course the sense of bittersweetness we often apply to these situations holds true, but I'd say it's mostly sweet. Not that I won't miss London, but I'm so happy with all I've done here and I'm content knowing I wouldn't have it any other way. 
So much shopping

Even more shopping...
London really has a way with making its visitors (and natives) fall in love with it, and I am certainly one of them .I have no idea how much more there is for me to see, and I’m sure I could spend my life here never having seen half of the historical, cultural, social and simply entertaining aspects of the city. I have made the best of my life in London, and I say goodbye knowing that I had an experience that was mine to hold onto. London will have a special place in my heart, and I only hope I am lucky enough to return someday. Cheers, London, you are everything to me and I'll miss you every day that I'm away!
My beautiful home of the last four months, 123 Queen's Gate

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