Living & Learning in London

Is it really over?

I worked so hard to get here for it to end just like that?

I have so many mixed emotions for these days to come. A part of me aches to hold my parents and brother in my arms once again, but the other part wants to stay in London. But after thinking long and hard, I realize this is not the end. It’s only the beginning for me as a new person. And it’s only evident as I look back on what I had to do to get here.

I’ve never taken my time here for granted. I’m so happy to say I took advantage of every opportunity that was thrown my way. This has been the time of my life.

Some time ago, a painfully shy girl arrived, while now a girl who is more determined and confident leaves. The personal growth I have gained during my time here has been so valuable. I’m so happy to have taken the risk of applying to study abroad and to the Gilman Scholarship.

I used to be so afraid of taking chances. I was always playing safe, and although I had the immense desire to come to London, I didn’t think I would get to come. I was always aware that I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

It wasn’t until I learned about the Gilman Scholarship that I actually started to have hope in my dream. After many discussions with my parents and advisers, I finally decided to take the plunge.

I really wanted to keep myself grounded by not being too excited. I knew how difficult it would be for someone to be awarded the Gilman Scholarship, and I was convinced my chances were slim. I went around looking for more aid to help me will all the costs associated with study abroad. I felt like it was meant to be when I was interviewing a source for an article.

We began talking after the interview and somehow London made it into our conversation, and without expecting anything she told me she could possibly help me fund my semester abroad. I still remember how hopeful I felt when I heard her say those words. But it all just seemed too good to be true. How could it be possible for someone like me to be able to go to London? I’m the first one in my family to attend college, maybe wishing to study abroad was taking a stretch.

The next couple of weeks were torture. I had nothing more to do but wait and see. There were many times when it looked like a lost case, but eventually everything started to fall into place. One day, the lady who offered to help me said it was possible for her to do so. And soon after I was notified that I had received not only the Gilman Scholarship, but that I was being awarded the full amount. I was speechless when I found out, and I told my parents in broken sentences as I fought back tears.

Well, I can say that every tear of fear, anguish, and even anger was worth it.

I took a huge risk by applying to study abroad without knowing about my financial situation because I could have missed out on a whole semester of school at SAU if I wouldn’t have been able to afford London. It would have been too late for me to enroll for classes at Ambrose.

It has honestly been really difficult for me to write this because I don’t really want to face the reality which is that I am coming home in a few weeks. It’s painful to have to leave a place that you grow attached to. Especially when you’ve also grown attached to people you have met. This can be the last time I will ever be able to see them, and I may never be able to come back to the UK. But what I do know for certain, is something I have spoken about in my previous columns. London has ignited in me a power I didn’t even know I had. I learned that I have the power to achieve whatever I put my mind on. I have the power to fight for my dreams.

When I first arrived in London, I was overwhelmed. I thought the people were scary, and I was surrounded by shops and restaurants I knew I would never be able to afford in my lifetime. Now, I’m okay with that because nothing can be what it seems. I have met incredible people in London who have gone out of their way to make sure I was happy and that my time here was worthwhile. I realized never to say never, and I can say that I have been so happy during my stay. I owe my happiness to all of those who made my dreams come true. I honestly go to bed thinking how could I possibly deserve this? God has been so good to me, and I don’t even know why. I’m just grateful.

I think I will end my last column from London with my gratitude to all those who have made this possible.

Thank you Gilman Scholarship for believing in me among the piles of hundreds of other applicants.

Thank you Dr. Nancy Hayes for being my guide and giving me the confidence to come to London. Your enthusiasm and passion are very contagious, and you know how to make someone feel special and worthwhile.

Thank you Stephanie Loncarich from the Study Abroad office for always being there for every single question and worry I had about the study abroad process.

Thank you Dr. Barbara Pitz, I owe you for being awarded my Gilman Scholarship. You were amazing! You made time for me in your busy schedule to make sure that I turned in the best application I could possibly turn in. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have come to London.

Thank you Joyce Haack and the P.E.O. Sisters, I am still amazed at your generosity and willingness to help a complete stranger like myself realize her dreams. I am honestly honored to have received your help in funding my time here.

And of course, thank you, Mom and Dad! You were always there to pick me up, brush the tears away, and dust me off on those times that I felt hopeless and did nothing but cry over this not being possible. You are my inspiration and what I cherish most in life. I love you so much and I am so proud to be your daughter. Everything I do, I do for you, because I know how hard you two have worked to get me here, and I want you to know that I don’t take it for granted. I want to make your hard work worthwhile. Thanks big brother for being so reassuring and proud of me.

Now that I’m done sounding like I won an award and gave my acceptance speech I want to give you a word of advice. Do what you love and chase your dreams. There will always be someone who believes in you. I believe in the power, love, and kindness of people, and I believe in you.

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