Although it feels as if time has flown by at the speed of a red double-decker bus, I still cannot believe that only a week has passed since we came to this beautiful city. From Westminster Abbey to Covent Garden, we have traveled as far as our aching feet would take us in hopes of seeing every nook and cranny of London within our reach. Sleepless nights inevitably follow, but when I drag myself out of bed to the likes of the Waterloo Bridge and the London Eye, everything is absolutely worth it.
From the mundane shouts of “cheers!” to the awe-inspiring sights of Elizabeth Tower, stretching far into the cloudy skies, London has exceeded every expectation that I thought to create for this journey. I had arrived only five days ago, my high spirits hardly dampened by the two hour wait in customs, with the idea that I would walk among historical buildings, happily munching on a plate of fish and chips while I hunted down a quaint little tea shop.
The truth is, I have done all of these things, but I have also done infinitely more. Instead of just strolling aimlessly among the historic sites, I have become a part of London’s immense history, just like the other millions of people who walk its streets. I have tried (and consequently loved) the local fish and chips, but by living here, I feel that I have been able to experience the culture at a far deeper level than just the delectable local cuisine. And, though the tea shop hunt continues, I have seen considerably more facets of the city than just its fascination with tea leaves.
Despite all of these new discoveries, I cannot bring myself to call London my “home away from home,” for the phrase seems to echo a sense of complacency in life, a feeling of complete comfort. London neither makes me feel complacent nor completely comfortable—I have gotten lost enough times to prove that—but that is why this experience is so precious to me. I already have a home in America, and having only one suits me just fine. Yet what I lacked was an adventure, a chance to leave my home, to be uncomfortable, and to celebrate in this new discomfort by learning how to thrive in it. People may stare at me, the clueless tourist, as I fumble with my change and squint at maps, but this is my adventure. My monsters may be as simple as navigating the Tube or understanding pieces of culture. The perilous journey may consist only of a fifteen minute walk down the Thames. Still, as long as I learn and grow from this new experience, this adventure will continue to be magical to me.
With only one week down and two more to go, I can only imagine what more magic I will find in my future here. The past few days have proven again and again that, even in times of uncertainty, the city will find a way to make it a wonderful opportunity for excitement and growth. After all, London may not be my home away from home, but it will always be the apple of my London Eye.