Friday, January 9, 2015

& when you hear big ben, you're home again.

I've had this post drafted for weeks. So here it finally is- London changed me. I said that about high school, I said that about freshmen year, and here I am saying that about my study abroad. The difference is that, unlike the first two, I may be the only person who really understands it. Well, me & the 39 other adopted siblings I had for 14 weeks. It's weird how, in the moment, I didn't really think about it. I didn't feel like anything was changing. But now that I'm home I really notice it. I was a different person in London and I hope that I brought a little piece of that home with me.

A study abroad seems like an extremely selfish thing to do. and it is, in its own way. After all, I basically cleared out my savings account {I paid for half + all of my spending. aka every penny I earned working a full time job + 3 part time jobs this summer} and I really didn't do much to better the world. The only thing that I did that didn't involve entertaining myself was church. and I loved every single second of it. I was put in a ward on the outskirts of London-- it took well over an hour commute each way but I wouldn't have traded it for the Hyde park chapel around the corner from the centre, not in a million years. I met people that literally changed the way I look at life. I met people with the most incredible faith. People that have truly been changed by the gospel. And I got to call them my friends. Words don't really describe what it's like to interview a lady for a religion paper and sit in the room while she tells you her heartbreaking life story. She tells you about the challenges she's overcome and you come to the realization that you wouldn't have gotten to hear anything like this at home. Let's face it, Montrose isn't exactly known for diverse cultures. If you asked me about my favorite memory from study abroad, it would be that afternoon.

I was a nursery leader! Small children + british accents = best job ever
^^The greatest lady I've ever met
I always talk about the adventures I want to have and the places I want to travel, but the past 4 months have taught me a really important lesson: it's not the place, it's the people. I tell myself that I've become better at living in the moment and enjoying the people I'm with, after all, adventures are harder to come by when there's no one else to talk to. I was lucky enough to share my London adventure with 39 ASTOUNDING people. I could say something I admire about every single person I lived with last semester, but I'm especially grateful for the ones I spent every day with. The ones who became life-long friends. The group who understood that Portabello crepes on a Saturday morning were a necessity and that having dance parties in the bathroom every night is perfectly normal. I love you girls.

my room two girls.

I learned a lot about me. Since I'm not really a writer, it's hard to explain some things, but I can tell you that without London, I wouldn't be going on a mission. I wouldn't have been able to ship off to Russia for a year and a half without the experiences I had last semester. I would probably be packing my bags for BYU right now if it hadn't been for the day on the beacon and in the first LDS chapel or for the waiting time before doing baptisms in the London temple. Or for that matter, if it hadn't been for the culmination of most of my experiences this fall. I really don't know how missionaries can do it without a good in-between phase like a study abroad. It doesn't seem like it, but a study abroad is hard. Not mission-hard, but just difficult. You live, eat, and breathe with the same people every single day. You're seven hours ahead and 5000 miles away from the people that you really want to talk to. And even though you're living in the most beautiful city in the world, with what have to be the funniest people BYU could possibly provide, it gets rough. But you learn so much. You learn patience and gratitude and looking beyond yourself.

I learned that the more I travel, the more I want to travel. I've always loved going new places-- Everyone in my family complains about airports and hotels, but frankly I love them. I claim a window seat every single time. God created a beautiful world and it makes me so sad to see people content with knowing only a small part of it. I love Colorado with all of my heart, but there is so sooo much more out there!

In a lot of ways I'm still the same person I was. I still love Coldplay and country music with all of my heart. I still can't resist a chocolate chip Subway cookie and roses are still the worst flowers ever made. I still can't go outside at night without looking up at the stars in awe and I collect wayy to many pictures. But I've also changed in a lot of ways. I made a lot of decisions with a clear perspective- without my parents or childhood friends or singles ward Sunday school teachers telling me who to be and where my life should go. I can successfully find my way around a city 437 times bigger than my hometown {yes, I just did that math}. I fell in love with an entire new culture. My view of the world was expanded more than I even expected.

The experiences I had while in London were nothing short of eye-opening. Do you realized that I walked by town-houses that are the same age as AMERICA. like, the country. Yeah, I went to so many cathedrals that I can't even name half of them anymore, but I got to see them. England has so much history and culture. I loved spending afternoons in the National Portrait Gallery and evenings going to world-class plays. Really, what could be better??

I grew to love England and the culture. Since the first day we got there, there was a thing called the "poppy appeal" going on. It took about a month for me to really understand, but once I did, it was incredible. 2014 marks one century since the start of the Great War {WWI}. WWI was more devastating for England than any other war {including WWII} and it's effects are still evident in England today. Poppies are their symbol for this war, and the Tower of London laid out a poppy for every death. So everywhere you went there would be someone standing on the corner selling paper poppies {all proceeds went to the Royal British legion} to pin on your chest. And I can honestly tell you that by mid-november 99% of people, both in London and in the other English towns we visited, wore a poppy. Can you imagine a culture that intune? I would disagree with you if you said that the entire population of America would all buy a pin that symbolized WWI or something like it. The English people are so true. Americans are really sugar coated- we call everyone our friends but aren't really true to most of them. England was opposite. If someone called you their friend, they meant it. and I loved that.

There's so much more that I learned, but I'm running out of time. Let me just say this... if you have the chance to go on a study abroad. please, DO IT. It's the greatest opportunity and face it, you're a poor college student anyways, so why not see the world? Oh, and I suggest London.

I've been gone for almost a month and I still miss the busy streets of London, and the market food, and the beautiful skyline. And I most definitely miss words that are spelled pretty {favourite, flavour, centre, theatre...} and the tube, and 27 Palace Court, and Hyde Park, and everything else. London, I love you! Thanks for giving me a life-changing 3 1/2 months!

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. For there is in London all that life can afford." -Samuel Johnson


  1. I understand exactly how you feel. I left for my study abroad in London 3 years ago (!) this month and I still feel kind of an ache when I think about it because I'm not there anymore. I have a goal to go back someday (maybe when my sister finishes her mission there...) and take my husband, but I'm 99% positive it won't be even close to the same. I'm so glad you got to go!

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  4. My daughter left today for 27 Palace Court. I'm home now from the airport and googled BYU London center blog and your blog was the first one up with the pictures of London and 27 Palace Court. I just read this amazing post and have prayed very hard that my daughter comes away with this growth and change in her life. I hope you don't mind that I peeked into your life but I want you to know that it was just what I needed on this day that I am already missing her but so so so happy for her and the life changing experience she is about to have! So thank you! And I agree that London is the best city in the world!