Across the pond

Wesley Hough-Cornwall

After only three weeks of life in London, I feel as if I have mastered this place. Not really, but I do feel well acclimated in my new home. I know what you are thinking: How can you feel settled in after three weeks in a huge city and a brand new country? Well, I will tell you. If you take the approach that many of us here at the London Centre have taken, it is feasible to tackle London in three months.
I feel as if I have actively experienced the city of London – or England for that matter – with each and every spare second I have been given. My list of activities includes, but is not limited to, several Shakespeare plays, standing in line to see Sir Ian McKellen star in “Waiting for Godot” from the front row, Easter service at Westminster Abbey, exploring different neighborhoods, testing out different pubs, a week in Paris and day trips to Bath, Stonehenge and Dover.
Alongside my many active adventures are the numerous things I have learned about the country since I have been here. Whether it’s the changing fashion trends, important beers, facts about the monarchy or the upcoming election, I have learned more about Britain and the United Kingdom in 3 weeks then I learned about the United States of America in my entire high school education.
So what is it about this place that has sparked such ambition in me? Could it be my recognition that I might never have this opportunity again? Yes, that definitely plays a role. Or how about the massive amounts of culture right at my doorstep? There are so many reasons to continue this ambitious approach to my time studying abroad.
The most notable thing about this approach, however, is that it has enabled me to learn about the city that I currently reside in from many different perspectives. I can grimace at a tourist who takes out her camera to snap a picture of a Beef Eater while simultaneously pulling out my Rick Steves guide or Streetwise London map. I can detest organized bus tours to Stonehenge but still pay $75 to go and take 30 pictures of the same stone when I arrive. So far, the most rewarding experience has been accurately assisting lost tourists with directions to the correct tube station or museum.
And here comes the rather hokey part of this whole reflection. The really important lesson I have learned that will stick with me through the rest of my study abroad time and the rest of my Lawrence career: My new goal in life is not to do as much as I can in the short amount of time I have to do it, but instead to do as much as I can of the things that I truly enjoy doing.
My time in London will be spent traveling to the places I have always wanted to go, or going to a museum and concentrating on only one particular wing or exhibition. To put it plainly and quite smarmily: I think I have discovered the best, most efficient and most entertaining way to travel. However, I’m sure this “revelation” of mine is nothing new and that those before me have followed similar paths.