Love Letters to London: Excerpts from My Diary

Last Spring, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in London, England through ISA. Traveling from a small town in Minnesota to a large city across the world has been one of the most influential and meaningful chapters of my life. As I continue my life post-study-abroad, I often look back on my diary to reminisce on the wonderful times I’ve had in Europe. Here are some of my favorite entrees.

Friday, January 11, 2019

I’m almost relieved that I have said goodbye to my family because that was by far the hardest part thus far. I am sitting in my concourse waiting for my mini flight to Chicago to board. The sun is in my eyes, but I can finally relax for a moment. This morning was hectic and stressful and emotional. I hope the rest of the day goes smoothly. Depending on when I eat and sleep, this will either be the longest day ever or the two shortest days ever. We’ll see! I reread the letters my sister sent me from her study abroad trip to Sweden and I packed them in my travel journal. I can’t believe this is happening. According to my American Airlines app, I board in 41 minutes. This is scary.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

It has been such a fun day! We had a double decker bus tour and got to see Buckingham Palace, the London Bridge, and Westminster Abbey. I like my roommates! Note: Pret a Manger is a good café for lunch… Sansbury for quick groceries!

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

It’s been a crazy week! Monday we had orientation at Westminster University. It was long, but my roommates and I got fish and chips after! We also explored London and wandered around – taking the tube, walking and exploring. Later, we got Thai food in Notting Hill. This week, we went to Camden Market. It was so much fun and I will definitely be going back. We also found a wonderful doughnut shop in our neighborhood and a Scandinavian coffee shop near the university.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

I’ve been here in the UK for almost three weeks. I can’t believe how much my life has changed. I especially can’t believe how well I have adjusted in such a short time. Let me just think about all the ways my life is different. I live in London. I go to school in the middle of  city. I only have class two days a week. I walk and take the Tube everywhere. I get annoyed when people don’t have their oyster cards ready at the gate or stand on the wrong side of the escalator. I am a crabby Londoner and I love it. I’m living this amazing life full of adventure, risk, culture, and more. I’m very lucky and happy and utterly content.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

I have officially been here for a month. Four weeks. It’s amazing. Apparently, I am missing out on a pretty harsh winter back in Minnesota. I’m honestly sad that I’m not there. I love winter, but I don’t get one this year. London feels like Spring all the time!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Last weekend, we took a day trip to Brighton with ISA, which was so much fun. It was quite cold, but it was beautiful. We had fish and chips by the seaside and shopped at a cute record store!

Monday, March 25, 2019

There is something really special about walking home in London, listening to the Beatles, in England. The weather is so wonderful here now and I’m very happy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I’m going to miss the garden behind our flat. I sit in the damp grass, legs crossed, eyes squinting from the sun. The wind is chilly, but it is pierced with warmth from the sun that wasn’t out until now. The city sounds far away. I can still hear the whir of cars passing, an occasional siren, helicopter, and other interruptions of the peace. Mostly, I just hear the birds. The birds are so happy to be here. To be in the middle of a man-made garden in the midst of a man-made city. Every tree, plant, rock placed perfectly to create an oasis for the upper class families that occupy the surrounding buildings. The birds talk to each other, some dogs are barking as well. The dialogue is impossible to decipher. I look out to see the greenest grass reflecting the sun between the shadows the trees cast. The color is soft. The light reflecting off of the pastel colored buildings creates a glow in the garden. There’s a woman, luxuriously covered in fur. She drinks from a golden flask as her dog-accessory runs out in the open. I wonder how she got here, and I wonder how I got here to observe her.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

I had a really fantastic day in London yesterday. I gave my last presentation at Westminster, and I am officially done with classes and assessments abroad. I spent the day in central alone. I went to MinaLima, the print shop that did all the Harry Potter design stuff, did some bargaining for souvenirs, and ate street pizza. It was a wonderfully rainy London day, and to end it, I went to Kentish Town to see one of my favorite bands play. I love you London.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Thank you London. Thank you for all you taught me about myself. Thank you for teaching me that I can be capable and confident and independent. Thank you for the beautiful experiences, from grubby tube rides to incredible history to beautiful memories. Thank you for the free museums, the new friendships, and a wider perspective. Even a year later, I miss you so much.

Victoria M. Evens is an ISA Global Ambassador at University of Minnesota, Morris. She studied abroad with ISA in London, England.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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