Happy LonDay!

27 Jan

If it was actually 10 a.m. in London three years ago and not today (I know that’s a stretch but it’s how I see it) my plane would have been landing in Heathrow airport for the beginning of my 5 month stint living in London. Which is why every year I celebrate today, LonDay, by being as English as possible. Last year I made bangers and mash, this year I’m going a cheaper route with a Dairy Milk bar and some English Breakfast tea.

I would define myself as an Anglophile. That means someone who is totally obsessed with English culture and England in general. If I had a guaranteed job and some money there would be nothing stopping me from living back in London again. It’s the best place on earth, and I have so many wonderful memories.

Katie, Me, Lizz and Laura outside of the Colosseum in Rome with our European boyfriends

I owe a lot of who I am to my time studying abroad at Kingston University. First of all I would have never really bonded with my boyfriend Alex if it wasn’t for our long, late night talks after trips home from the bar. I mean about 90 percent of the foundation of our relationship began based around my time in London and the fact that he was always there when I needed someone to talk to at 3 in the morning. He was the first person who reached out to me when I landed in London and the first person to reach out to me when I got off the plane in the United States five months later. And then, when he went to London exactly one year later, as much as it hurt, I made sure to be there every night for his trip back home. And I’m not going anywhere.

The friends that I made while studying abroad are an amazing group of individuals that I feel so lucky to have met. People that I never could have imagined deserving to know, and people that made the entire semester the amazing experience that it was. Honestly, I look at the people I met while in England and think “Jeeze, how do these people actually like talking to me still? They must still be buzzed from study abroad.”

Jump shot in front of the Louvre with Sara

I’m lucky to have such adventurous friends. Let’s face it, college-goers, sitting around your friend’s dorm room drinking Natty and watching guys play XBox all weekend isn’t fun. Getting a group of 8 people to hop a bus with you to Edinburgh, Scotland for the weekend? That’s fun. Studying abroad gave me the chance to meet people like me, people who couldn’t sit still long enough to be bored. I’ve never done so much in such a short time, and I loved it. I could have never imagined getting on a boat in the middle of the Greek Islands to go meet up with your friends in Mykonos. Oh what did you do this weekend? Oh, just met up with my friends who were hanging out at a tropical island in Greece. No big dealio.

Camden Town in Greater London

I’m really thankful for London. When I came there for the first time in 2007 I fell in love. I never knew I could have such an emotional attachment to a place, but I did. The city is so amazingly diverse, the people are so genuinely interesting and unique, it’s a place I was meant to live in. When I returned in 2009 I really had no idea what my life was about. I was in between majors and generally tired of being stuck in New Jersey doing the same thing every day. I’m not the type of person who can just settle into a place and sit still, I have to get up and go. London gave me that opportunity every single day. From Central London and Westminster to Notting Hill and Camden and, of course, Chelsea, there were so many different places, all more wonderful than the last. It helped me figure out who I am. Being alone in a new place without the glare of people that thought they understood who I was helped me realize that I wasn’t what everyone just assumed I was supposed to be. It gets harder to see that now, being back in the same situations, but days like today remind me not to give up on who I really am.

If you are currently a student in college, one about to go to college, or a student considering college I cannot stress this enough: study abroad. I guarantee that it will change your life. I have become a more-grounded, understanding and tolerant person because of my time overseas. The world is full of different and unique people that aren’t going to change to fit your standards, and the best way to learn that is by getting on a plane and seeing all that the world has to offer. You don’t get many opportunities in life to just pack up and go, and when you do you better get up and do it. Step away from the frat parties and “Family Guy” reruns for a semester and go meet new people. Make new friends. See sights that you never thought you would. Experience the world. Experience life.

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