The time had finally come, and I still couldn’t believe it. All of the excitement I had built up during the past few months went away as I looked out the window on my way to the airport to go and study abroad in London. I never thought that someone like me would be able to embark on this adventure because I knew I would never be able to afford it. My desire to become an independent, confident and strong graduate student candidate led me to London. I was excited to also have an internship. The day I found out my dreams would become a reality is still a blur to me. I only remember learning that I had been awarded the Gilman Scholarship, and I couldn’t stop crying.
I had worked so hard to make this study abroad trip happen, and knowing that I succeeded was one of the most joyous moments in my life. But at the same time, as I was on my way to the airport and watched Iowa zooming past my car windows, I began to feel afraid. I panicked and wondered if I had made the right decision. Was I truly prepared for this?
Regardless of my fears and doubts, I had no choice but to kiss my family goodbye and leave them and my beautiful Iowa for the first time. I boarded that plane and flew across the ocean all while being well aware of the tremendous privilege this experience would be for me.
I’ve been in London for two weeks and I’ve loved every minute of it. The city is charming, the people are hip, and I’ve made friendships that I know will last a lifetime. But it is so much more than all the superficial causes that have made me fall in love with London. It’s the influence this city has had on me. I already feel more confident and independent than I’ve ever felt my entire life. The big city has forced me to step out of my comfort zone, but at the same time the small city feel has been an incredible help in allowing me to feel comfortable. London is strange in such a beautiful way. It’s a big city, but the unofficial districts that make up London have the small town feel I’m so used to. Of course, this wasn’t exactly my first impression of the city. When I arrived, I had to make my way to my new home by riding the Underground for the very first time. I was extremely overwhelmed at the metro’s complex maps, and the large crowds or people on their move for the morning commute.
I immediately loved how diverse the city it. I saw business executives riding the Underground with their coffee and newspaper in hand, city workers, nannies and maids all meshed into one train. I think I’ve heard more foreign languages here in London than I’ve heard English. And I must confess, I immediately fell in love. Everywhere you go you run into diversity. It could be in languages, cultures or simply social class, but there’s always that variety that keeps the atmosphere alive and exciting.
I’m currently just beginning to get my schedule in place. I had a full week to adjust and explore, but this Monday I began to get a taste of what my time will be like in London. I began my internship and my classes although my class at London Southbank University will not begin until next week.
Now, I can travel on the Underground all on my own and I can’t believe I was just a small town girl a few days ago. Aside from living in a historical city, I’m taking 18 credits, which includes an internship, two required program courses, and a theatre and screenwriting course. I’ve already interned for two days at the non-profit organization “4 Children,” which is one of the largest child non-profits in the UK. They work on changing policies to help all children reach their full potential in a safe environment. For example, their last campaign was raising awareness on domestic violence victim rights. I currently intern for their publications department, and I love everyone I work with. Not only have they been very friendly and welcoming in the office, but they also were very helpful in giving tips. My boss told the whole office how I was a “Super Intern” because I was able to help take a load off the team by working on a few minor but essential details of their website while they finished a few touches on their latest campaign.
I wish I could explain with words how empowered I feel by being here. I just know I made the right decision. If I’ve already accomplished so much in less than two weeks, who knows what these next three months will have to offer.