Across the pond

Lauren Thompson

(Lauren Thompson)

After deciding that I was going to participate in the Lawrence London Centre program, the warning I heard most often was to not get my hopes up about making British friends. Several previous London Centre students expressed their frustration over that exact problem. They said that the London Centre felt a bit like summer camp, a vacation, even if it was a vacation with fellow Lawrence students. With those warnings in mind, I arrived in London expecting my temporary escape from the Lawrence bubble to be difficult, but I was determined to try.
Within a week of arriving, my friend Katherine and I had joined the Imperial College Ultimate Frisbee team, more commonly known as the Disc Doctors. On our first day of practice, I was nervous; the most I had done with a disc since Spring Term 2010 was some tossing at the beach. I hoped I wouldn’t be shunned too badly if I made a complete fool of myself.
In the end, there was nothing to fear. Before either of us had even come near a disc, we were being queried about our fluorescent shorts, our home team, whether we knew “Wolfy” – Sarah Wolfson ’12 – and whether we would be meeting the team at the bar later.
Since that first day of practice, I have found myself planning my remaining time in London around the team schedule. We spent a full Saturday wearing silly hats at a tournament, which we nearly won. We have waited until the last minute to race to class from practice, and then gone immediately to the Imperial Union Bar with the team as soon as class ends. Just a few weeks ago, I spent six hours crammed into a small upper room in a curry house with 31 teammates, enjoying the most amusing meal of my life.
Perhaps, in previous years, Londoners have been less approachable. Maybe Imperial College has been less accessible in the past. Whatever the case, I have experienced none of the expected problems while making friends in London. It’s true that neither Lawrence University nor FIE had pre-packaged British friends waiting for me in my welcome package.
However, by taking myself out of my comfort zone and accepting that if I wanted to make friends I would have to make an effort, I have discovered some of the best and closest friends I could possibly ask for. My only regret about my new friendships is that there is not nearly enough time left to spend with them, but that’s okay; that’s just one more reason to come back someday.