Saturday, October 15, 2011


I'm spending the next 30 hours in London.  When I tell others this, I get polite to mild excitement about it.  I don't think they understand.  A few do.  A few have been there and experienced it such that I have experienced it.  We lived there.  We weren't just visitors or tourists.  We didn't live out of a hotel or walk around with fanny packs.  We didn't talk loudly on the Tube or go for the stereotypical London photoshoots.

We took classes.  We learned.  We grew.  We spent our time reading Shakespeare and Bronte and Austen.  We explored the depths of the city.  We shopped at Waitrose and Sainsburys.  We had multiple month-long Oyster cards and went to the theatre at least once a week.  We found those cute, cozy restaurants, and we saw the inside of the great cathedrals and museums.  We visited the Tate often enough to notice when paintings would leave and others would appear.  We spent afternoons in the librarys and treasure rooms.  We did research in the Imperial War Museum vault.  We attended bonfires on Guy Fawkes Day and pantomimes at Christmas.  We saw Prince William and Prince Harry in the flesh.

I think that college is about learning, not only about your chosen fields, but about life itself.  There has to be a point where you grow up, when you realize that you can be a functioning adult, that you can and will make it on your own.  London was that time for me.  Yes, it was still somewhat sheltered.  We lived in a dorm and were asked to submit travel reports so that the leaders knew where we went on the weekends.  But it was the first time I was expected to cook for myself.  It was the first time I flew on my own.  It was the first time I was in charge of making travel plans and bookings.  I turned 21 in London.  I may have screwed up a couple of times.  I was robbed at one point.  I might have eaten more candy than necessary.

My semester in London is the reason I can travel now.  It's the reason my boss can send me around the world, and I can willingly accept travel assignments.  It gave me the confidence to get around on my own.  So when I tell people I'm going to London this weekend, there is so much more to it.  I once heard it described as, "You love London like you love a child."  And I'm willing to believe that is true.

So, once more with feeling: London.

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