Wednesday, February 10, 2016

hello from the other side

Today hits the two-week mark that so many friends have advised me as being exactly when they began enjoying studying abroad and so I felt it was an ideal time to post an update. This isn't to say I was having a terrible time and suddenly today everything became perfect, that's definitely not the case. For me, studying abroad so far has been kind of a strange, confusing and exciting time. It's a constant fluctuation of highs and lows. In spite of a stubborn sprained ankle that's been taking it's sweet old time healing, I've been exploring London a lot and visiting many places I've anticipated going to for awhile. My Seeing London's Architecture class went to see the Tower of London earlier this week, a place I've been obsessively reading about in several historical books.

From the mysterious disappearance of Elizabeth Woodville's two sons (although one was alleged to have been spirited away to live with a nice peasant family) to the beheadings of many prominent historical figures- Anne Boleyn, her cousin Catherine Howard, Jane Grey, to the famous imprisonment of Elizabeth I during her older half-sister Mary's reign (which is when she's rumored to have first fallen in love with her favorite Robert Dudley), the Tower is rich in history and I found myself touching the massive stone walls to prove to myself I was really here. I adore history, especially British history, so it was incredible to see the Crown Jewels that were specifically created for Charles II after the English monarchy was restored in 1660- I recently reread The King's Favorite by Susan Holloway, a favorite historical fiction novel of mine about Nell Gwynn, one of King Charles II's most famous mistresses. I've also been rereading The Autobiography of Henry VIII by by Margaret George- it's this massive book of about 900 pages, I misplaced my copy of it a few years ago and kept meaning to replace it but didn't until I stumbled into a tiny used book shop in Bloomsbury and saw a copy. It's great because even though I'm reading for fun, the content is relevant to my classes here (shout out to History of British Fashion for being the class I never knew I needed in my life) so I'm technically being productive even as I read one of my favorite books. So you could say that academically, I'm doing phenomenally. I've even started enjoying my Global Fashion Industry class. Fashion, Culture, & the Body is a bit confusing but I'm trying to be open-minded as a friend told me it was her favorite class from the fashion program during her semester in London.

I think I'm definitely adjusting to actually living here and navigating friendships, both old and new. I've been told that studying abroad is about yourself, so I'm trying to keep that in mind as I decide where I want to travel, who to go with, etc. I'm an extremist at heart so I think I would've preferred to either study abroad with people I know and be with only them, or to have come knowing nobody at all. Instead, I've been dealt a 'in-between' situation where I've come with many friends but live far from them, so I'm figuring out how to balance keeping up with the friends who are here while also getting to know new friends better. I also think I'm the type of person who people generally like better after knowing for a long time as they actually get to know me so I'm reminding myself to just keep doing me and have some faith in myself.

I'm most definitely homesick- I miss my friends and family back at home and do my best to stay in touch with them as often as possible (aka writing daily letters to Beatrice and sending postcards to the friends I used to see everyday, FaceTiming with Maria about recruitment more often than someone who's studying abroad should) but it's not debilitating in any way. Just a fact of being abroad that I've made my peace with. However, I'm definitely still struggling with missing NYC restaurants, especially salad places (I swear the British don't believe in salads) (I just want Fresh & Co) and of course, my mattress pad. The beds here are not exactly comfortable but I guess it prevents me from staying in bed all day, so I'll accept my fate (for now).

This morning was the first time it really hit me that I'm in a different country and it was pretty exhilarating. I love the anonymity of being in a new city- New York has become home for me, a very positive thing but here in London I really feel like I've gone incognito. I'm obviously not off the grid as I continue to update my social media pretty often but I love feeling like I could do whatever I want- fly away to Amsterdam, escape to Paris for the weekend, and nobody would know (*cue the end of Say No to This from Hamilton- "nobody needs to know" (literally) (seriously nobody needs to know!!)) and I LOVE it. That initial rush of freedom and exhilaration I felt when I stepped onto the plane to come to London hasn't left, I still feel like I've stepped into an unforgettable adventure. So to everyone who told me that 2 weeks is when things change for the better: you were right. I'm sure there's still plenty of awkward moments and loneliness heading my way, I still have to figure out where I'm traveling and with who, but I'm starting to feel good about coming here. Cheers! xx

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