We just got to Charlotte airport and it feels bittersweet. I’m so happy to be back in my timezone and back within my non cellphone roaming areas. I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed tonight. This has been a trip I will never forget.
Throughout the past 14 days, I have had some of the best days of my life and one of the worst. During the first week, I got and email from a graduate school I had really been hoping to get into, giving me an interview. I was ecstatic. I had crazy adventures with my best friends and saw sights few people are lucky enough to ever lay eyes on.
Then came the worst. With 4 days left, I got the news that a close friend of mine had passed, very unexpectedly. Very. I was shocked. He was one of the last people I saw before leaving for this trip. The guilt I felt being on the trip of my life while my best friends plan calling hours and a eulogy was unbearable. Knowing the pain my friends were in while I was across the ocean was probably the worst feelings I’ve ever had. But there was a small silver lining. After his passing I was able to light a candle for him at the Notre Dame in Paris and at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. My thoughts for him were coming from all over the world. A small comfort and a unique way to celebrate someone’s life.
I wouldn’t have traded this trip for anything in the world.
I am so excited I’m not sure i will be able to sleep tonight. I cannot wait to go to Paris. Another bucket list activity to cross off the list. Even though its an early morning and a long day, I know it will be one to remember forever. I hope that the weather cooperates! It has been freezing and windy all day.
Today after our tour of the amazingly beautiful parliament, we headed down to China Town. We had hoped to get some unique gifts, but there were mostly just markets and restaurants. I did get some dried seaweed that I hadn’t had since I was little so the trip was not in vain. After China Town we grabbed lunch at an Italian restaurant and had an embarrassing episode there where we tried to pay and the waiter mistook our extra payment as a tip when in reality we didn’t have any smaller bills! After a lecture from the waitress about not leaving too many coins we went to Covent Garden to do more shopping. Clay got to be part of a magic act in the center of the mall! It made my night. Finally, we went back to China Town and had a great dinner. It was the perfect day. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
I have to say that one of my absolute favorite things about our trip so far is Big Ben. Located at Parliament Square, the huge clock is an icon that has represented the heart of London since its opening in 1859. We got to hear Big Ben chime on our first day and it had a magical quality. I think since we had all been looking foreword to the trip for so long, setting eyes on the grand tower was like we had finally made it, finally seeing what we had come so far to see. When I pictured London in my head before the trip, Big Ben was always the first image in my mind.
Today was a really special day for me because I got to walk on the famous Abbey Road. The Beatles of course are another amazing and incredible representative of the land across the pond. We weren’t expecting for it to be so inconspicuous. We almost walked right past it. There weren’t any signs so we didn’t figure that we were actually on Abby Road! That is until were deafened by honking of cars while people took turns walking across Abbey Road, pausing for a picture in the middle. We tried it. Then tried it again. And once more before finally giving in a paying the guy with the nice camera to take our picture for us, so he could be the one responsible for the honking. It was really fun to watch groups of people take turns, embarrassed by the crowd and cars and then quickly strike a pose. The air was fun and excited.
We also went to see Privates on Parade tonight. It wasn’t my favorite, but I did enjoy myself. I feel so lucky to be out in the most beautifully city in the world, with the greatest friends anyone could ask for! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip holds!
I absolutely cannot wait to leave for England tomorrow. I have been saving up for this trip for four years! While I was planning on going no matter what, the fact that my best friends are coming along makes it a dream come true! I cannot wait to go into full tourist mode and see everything London has to offer.
I am most looking forward to experiencing sites important to world history. As Trudy mentioned, the United States is in its infancy while England has a history that dates back to the Roman Empire. I can’t wait to step out into new territory and see places like Stonehenge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the city of Bath and Coventry; places that are markers of world history. I loved in particular the history modules that we did in class, because they reminded me that England has been through so much as a country and continued to move on and rebuild. Their spirit cannot be crushed.
I’m also so excited to go to Paris and see the Louvre. I’ve always dreamed of seeing the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper in person. Mostly, I hope to learn as much as I can about a culture different than my own. I’m excited to learn and grow with my old friends and make some new ones!
See you in the morning!