I’ve officially been here more than one month! It hasn’t always been easy, but this month alone has helped me to become a better person who is more aware of herself and others.
How do I know? A lot of that awareness happened this past week. I actually spent the day by myself last Sunday.
Disclaimer: This is the first blog post about my week. There’s too much to include without making it super long (which no one wants to read) so part two will be coming soon!
Warning, I’m about to get a little philosophical. When you’re alone in a big city, you become really aware of yourself and how small you really are. It can be kind of overwhelming. You’re just one person being pushed to the side as tourists run into you with maps, just one person vendors can sell a dress to and just one person trying to get on the tube. It’s weird when your singular life, that seems to be all consuming because it is in fact yours, intersects with everyone else’s singular life that is also equally as important.
When you’re alone, you become aware that there really are 96 steps to get to the tube. When you’re alone, you share an uncomfortable smirk with a girl in a knit green hat because you’re both irritated by the couple making out loudly in public. And when you’re alone, a woman might run you over on the street because she “didn’t even see you.”
But when you’re alone, you can smile to yourself at the British accents you dreamed of hearing your whole life. You can enjoy the rare London sunshine as you wait in line for a massive brownie that the person behind you described as “the Mecca of desserts.”
When you’re alone, it’s easy to realize how lucky you are to be here, in London, at this very moment.
On Sunday night my roommates and I went to dinner with Claire’s old neighbors who now live in London. We went to Wagamama (funny name), which is a chain Asian restaurant with noodle and rice dishes. The mom ordered duck, so my exotic food eating continued (I don’t know about you, but duck is exotic for me). It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it was pretty chewy. Hmm.
My internship was pretty consistent again this week. I wrote more articles for online and print, and got especially faster at writing online articles. I’m also starting to use British spellings without thinking about them too much!
On Tuesday our journalism class went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit at the Natural History Museum. There were only about 100 photographs, but they were sorted into categories from mammals to reptiles to environmental to natural landscapes. I posted a few of my favorites below.
After the exhibit, my roommates and I went back to the “mecca” that is the cheap Jewish deli and stocked up on bagels, brownies and other treats all for mere pence! Thanks to Bethany for telling me about it in advance!
On Wednesday, I started to feel really homesick. It was a slow day at work and I realized that there were 45 days until my family comes to visit, which just seemed so long. My roommates were getting ready to leave for Paris for the weekend so I would be sleeping in the flat by myself. And I knew my brother was going home that weekend to surprise my dad for his 50th birthday. I felt very anxious at the thought of being alone and away from my family for so much longer.
Then, something amazing happened.
My wonderful mother arranged a surprise birthday present for me and it happened to be delivered on Wednesday. It was essentially a gift full of love. She sent my favorite gum, brownie mix (that can be used without eggs!), icing, candles, necklaces, a birthday tiara, two books and … MY PLUSH MR. DARCY! I have waited for that adorable little man to be delivered ever since I found him online. No matter what happens in the rest of my time here, it’s good to know that I’ve finally found Mr. Darcy! I was so excited, I screamed when I opened him.
My mom also made a photo scrapbook with highlights of my 21 years thus far. Needless to say, I was in tears looking through it. I couldn’t believe the amount of time and detail she spent on it.
But the absolute best part was the secret project my mom had been working on with the help of my high school friend Bethany. They arranged for 21st birthday letters and cards from my family members and friends to be included. I was shocked. I had absolutely no idea this was going on, and normally I’m very in tune to secret happenings.
As lame as this may sound, any feelings of emptiness and sadness vanished as I read the heartfelt notes from these important people in my life. My support system stretches across oceans and continents. Gosh, who could ask for more than that?
A big city might make you feel lonely. Everyone is tired and cold and has somewhere to be. Smiles between strangers are few and far between in London, and everyone’s head is down and hidden behind a scarf or a newspaper.
But I know I’m never really alone. In addition to all of the wonderful people I have around the world, I’m joined by millions of others who, like me, had dreamed of living in London. We walk 96 steps to ride in the same tube carriage, breathe the same smoggy air and look up at Big Ben at the end of the day and think, “I made it.”
Allison, who is lucky to be in London