For four months, I studied abroad in London, England. These notes are select entries from my experiences in the United Kingdom and Western Europe from that time.
Wednesday, December 9 –
I woke up for my final day in London around 6:50 a.m. I finished packing my gear, put my clothes on, ate some donuts and milk for breakfast, and left my sheets, key and evaluation form with one of my professors.
I then headed downstairs to bring my gear to the lobby. There I shifted my breakables to my carry-on luggage and headed out the door with Cal and Rachel. It was strange walking down Gloucester Road for the last time.
We took the Circle Line for the last time to Victoria. There we struggled up and down stairs with our gear and bought tickets for the next Gatwick Express to Gatwick. Our train left soon afterwards and arrived at Gatwick 30 minutes later at 8:30 a.m. We checked in our gear and I had to check my carry-on bag because it was over the weight limit.
I then killed some time by reading The Telegraph and buying some Earl Grey Tea and French wine at Duty Free. Our flight departure was delayed 1.5 hours to noon, when we left on our 777 to Atlanta. The nine-hour flight was awesome with good food, service, British Airways personal theatre systems and plenty of legroom. We arrived at 16:00 p.m. EST in Atlanta after flying over Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Montreal, New England and the Atlantic seaboard. Most interesting was the channel that plotted the plane’s navigation data such as speed, kilometers covered, outside temperatures, position over the earth and altitude. I also had a good chat with Rachel during the flight. I watched three movies during the flight and ate a great dish of Thai chicken, vegetables, cheesecake and ice cream for lunch.
After picking up my gear and clearing U.S. Customs, I saw Dad out past the metal detectors. I had to put my gear on the belts once more and we went downstairs to pick it up again. It was good to see Dad and The South again, though I did feel a bit of reverse culture shock. We put my gear in the Ford Explorer and started on the road to Birmingham, only stopping at McDonalds along the way. We arrived in Birmingham around 19 p.m. and we met up with Mom and my brother at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I saw my room in our new house and was very impressed with the neighborhood and it all. I then unpacked my stuff from London and home before crashing around 2 a.m.
Looking back on the last few months, it was the most incredible time of my life that I will never forget. Why was it so special? Not only had I advanced academically and socially in London, but I developed myself personally in ways that I could not back home. I worked for another government, lived in a different country, survived in a big city, fed my artistic side, developed my business knowledge and professional goals further, learned about Britain, traveled throughout Europe and went to church regularly. Most importantly, I discovered myself and confirmed my own identity and values. In addition, there were all the countless experiences that I haven’t listed that I observed and lived. It was truly a remarkable time in my life. It was a true blessing!