Across the Pond

Zachary Jaeger

One of the greatest opportunities that I’ve had during my time abroad in London is the ability to travel on short-term notice. Back in Appleton, it’s an occasion if you even make it to Milwaukee for a concert; but while you study abroad, weekend trips are a norm.

The close proximity of an abundance of cultural centers is astounding, and you can’t help but want to see everything. This desire to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things is an attitude which pervades everyday life in London, and the accessibility of Europe makes for the perfect way to fulfill an adventurous spirit.

Travel was a little nerve-wracking at first, but I’ve become more and more accustomed to catching a train or bus to be transported into a completely different world. In time, the inability to read common street signs changes from stressful to, oddly, exciting.

After a while, you just say to yourself, “You know, I have no idea where I am right now or where I’m trying to get to. But I’ll eventually figure it out and until then I’ll simply enjoy being lost in a new and beautiful place.” It’s surprising how much you miss when you’re busy paying attention to directions and focusing on your end destination!

I would say my favorite trip so far this term was a three-day tour of Scotland. The beauty of the Scottish Highlands is breathtaking to say the least; the jaw-dropping landscape is a sight that can only be fully appreciated while surrounded by the rolling hills, mountains and waterfalls that make up nearly all of the area. The fiery Scottish pride that locals have for their country only enhances the natural beauty. A night in the pubs with a group of Scots will do good for anyone’s spirits.

An interesting aspect of my life in London is how I have come to feel so at home in a place that I’ve only been a resident of for seven weeks. I have begun to adopt the very culture that I am surrounded with on a daily basis — can’t get enough tea and biscuits! As a person coming from a hometown of about 100,000, this is especially exciting. London is huge, make no doubt about it. Yet, in the Royal Borough of Kensington, I have found my own little town that I have come to love as if I were raised here.

But regardless of where you go or what you do, you will undoubtedly come across things of great beauty and significance which you never would have been able to see otherwise. Having a place to return to that’s not to far away is also very valuable, and you start to feel that coming back to the flat in London is returning home to a place you can relax and go about things as usual. During this term abroad, I have fully come to understand that home is where you hang your hat.