Wow. There are probably a thousand words I could use to describe this unbelievable city and my first week living here, but I think that is the first that comes to mind. I’ve officially been in Kensington for one week now and my life has already changed in ways I never saw coming. This city has a pulse that sucks you in and allows you to feel right along with it. There’s constant movement pulling you along. London’s past always surrounds you and at times you forget you’re in a modern-day city, until you are plunged into London’s history. The building where T.S. Eliot lived and died is right around the corner; there are buildings from a thousand years ago, and me desperately wishing that the walls could talk. I don’t feel like I’m thousands of miles away from home, but that I have a new home I haven’t even begun to fully discover.
Move in day was probably the longest day I’ve had here. The flight and airport went really well, but being dropped off on the side of a busy street with all our luggage was a bit comical. Just picture about twenty American students, who have only been in the country about an hour, trying to navigate the streets of London. Thankfully, our Resident Director came to our rescue after about five minutes of chaos. I live in a triple room and I love both of my roommates, which is great. One flew out of Boston with me and the other is from Pittsburg. After a long day of meetings and orientation-filled hours, getting to sleep was beyond amazing.
I’ve been on a lot of tours this past week including a Kensington walk, a London sightseeing tour, Chelsea Stadium, BBC Studios, a Harry Potter walk, and a Jack the Ripper tour. Chelsea may have turned me into a small soccer fan, as much as one can be without knowing anything about the sport. I think my favorite tour might have been Jack the Ripper. The tour was in Spitalfields, part of East London, and it started at about seven o’clock at night. Being able to walk the streets of 1880 London was so eye-opening and inspiring. Aside from the murder aspect of the tour, I still believe I should have been born in that time. East London is a whole different world than Kensington in West London. A lot of artists live there so the whole area is like one big canvas. Graffiti covers a lot of the buildings but most of it is incredible. I really want to explore that area much more and hopefully stumble upon some Banksy pieces.
We also had our cruise on the River Thames, which was so much fun. I’ve already met a lot of people and have an awesome group of friends. The boat cruise is definitely a night I won’t forget. Another of my favorite days has been going on the London Eye. We lucked out and had sun during our ride so the view was absolutely incredible. I wanted to take pictures of every inch of the sight but I found myself too caught up in just looking to take pictures of everything.
That’s been a common theme for me here. Before I left, I told myself I was going to take pictures of everything, to document each moment so that I won’t forget it. I’ve realized quite quickly that that is beyond impossible. While I do have a lot of pictures already, I often find myself too engrossed in something to remember to actually take a picture of it. I’ve had so many firsts this week and I really wish I could talk about each and every one of them: my first tube ride, the amount of times we’ve already gotten lost on the tube, my first theater experience, my first fish and chips, seeing Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace, all the iconic places and trying to figure out the pound to dollar conversion. A word of advice: don’t try to figure it out; it will only make you depressed. All of it has culminated into a blur of emotion for me. I’ve been excited, scared, happy, sad, frustrated, and a hundred other emotions in the past seven days. That sounds like a Taylor Swift song, but it’s completely true. After this week, I just want more. I want to see everything London has to offer and I want to become as immersed in the culture as possible. People are right when they say studying abroad changes your life. After seven days, I’m just looking forward to what London has in store for me.