London in Review
As my semester in London comes to a close, I think it’s safe to say that it’s been an amazing ride. In the span of a few months, I’ve been able to see jaw-dropping sights, meet people from all over the world, and gain a broader perspective. From the incredible architecture of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, to the gorgeous parks and unrivaled theatre district, there’s a lot to love about this city. Above all of that, this experience did something else for me: it molded me into a better person.
Believe it or not, initially the city and how it functions freaked me out. Everything from the fast pace and massive amounts of people to how differently the city’s blocks are arranged got under my skin at first. Because I’m from suburban Massachusetts where everything’s simpler, slower, and more relaxed, this was a tough adjustment to make. Additionally, as an American, I took some heat for some of my Americanisms (i.e. standing on the left side of an escalator, saying “restroom” instead of “toilet,” the imperial system, etc.). The first month is the hardest to get through. There is so much being thrown at you at once that it can begin to feel overwhelming. During this time I was reminded that studying abroad is no easy feat.
After that first month, I began to settle into my surroundings. With each passing day, I would walk faster, raise my hand in class more often, and explore more of the city. Little by Little. Bit by bit. Eventually learning to navigate the city like a pro, being in a rush just like everyone else. The really funny thing is when my sister visited me, I was always fifteen paces ahead of her. On top of that, because she had no idea how anything worked (I had to show her how to use an Oyster card) or where anything was (she confused St. Pancras for King’s Cross), I had to be her navigator. (In a city foreign to both of us, mind you) That just goes to show how much someone can change while living in London for only a few months!
Aside from a suburban guy learning to navigate a large city, the classes here also contributed to the new me. Contrary to expectations, my classmates weren’t predominantly British. Rather, classes were made up of students from all over the world. For example, in my TV in London course, the US, China, Japan, and Germany were all represented. On top of that, most of the friends I made were fellow internationals. As a whole, hanging out with other international students allowed me to enhance my communication and problem solving skills (which are pretty important considering my major), while also opening my eyes to the rest of the world.
Lastly, the many strolls through Regent’s Park, touring of museums and filming locations, seeing plays, and experiencing the city’s skyline roll on the legendary London Eye floored me. Just when I thought the city couldn’t get any better, I would discover something new. Whether it was a new show, park, gallery, or even a street performer, London always finds a way to make your day. That’s what I’m going to miss most: it’s spontaneous nature, how there is always something new around the corner. The feeling of everyday being the first day.
With that I say goodbye, London. You’ve taught me many valuable lessons and showed me many good times. I exit a better person than when I entered. For that, I thank you and hope to see you again soon.
Tom K. is the Spring 2018 MOJO blogger in London, England. He is currently a Junior studying Communication concentrating in Journalism and Media Theory & Production at Western New England University.