The Perfect Jump

I never really thought I would study abroad. I mean, I always liked the notion of it. My parents always promoted studying abroad, as did W&L. But for me personally, it always seemed more like a fantasy than a reality. Besides a spontaneous trip to the Caribbean last summer, I hadn’t left the country. Going abroad sounded like an incredible adventure, but maybe too big of a leap for me. Leaving home for college was a big deal. Leaving the state of North Carolina was an even bigger one. Leaving the nation seemed too much. However, after continual convincing from Julia and Witt throughout fall term, I decided it was worth it. How right they were.

These 7 weeks studying and working in London have far and beyond exceeded my highest expectations. The mixture of work, studies, and play wasn’t just good, it was perfect. At times, it was almost overwhelming.  I was worried about going too far outside my comfort zone by traveling to Europe and leaving the comfort of my local summer job. Then, I was worried that studying abroad in an English-speaking country like the UK was such a similar culture that I wasn’t challenging myself enough. As it turns out, London was the perfect leap for me.

My internship in Parliament was fascinating. But interning in Parliament during the political fiasco of this summer, that was nothing short of incredible. I learned more than I thought possible, about both politics and the work world. Our class in Contemporary British Politics opened our eyes to a side of London and the UK that would have been hard to find elsewhere. Professor Blick was wonderful, and the afternoon trips were more than worthwhile. These parts of the program really were great, but it was the rest of the trip that was the most memorable.

In our time apart from work and class, that is where I learned the most. I learned about the city of London, and I learned what living in an urban area was like. I learned about culture, and not in a cliche way. I met white people, I met black people. I met Indians, Germans, Scots, Italians, Somalians, and many many more. I tried cuisine that I didn’t before know existed. Thanks to my time in London, I can now order a beer in 3 different languages, and say thank you in 4. There is so much more to see beyond our lives in America. Now, I think I truly understand that. I had close friends on the trip before leaving Lexington. With them, I became much more close. Even better, there were people on the trip that I wasn’t close with, or didn’t know at all. We’ve all made close and long-lasting relationships through this special time we’ve shared together, with memories I hope to never forget. I’ve learned a lot about others, and maybe most surprising, I learned a lot about myself. My biggest takeaway from this trip: I’ve become comfortable with the uncomfortable. This trip was the perfect jump away from the life I’ve always known. I’m beyond thankful for everybody that put their time into making this program exist. I’m grateful that Julia and Witt peer pressured me into giving this program a chance. And now, I’m looking forward more than ever to what is going to be my next jump.

  • Gray,

    I couldn’t agree more. London was the perfect jump. I too wondered just how much of a cultural experience we’d have those seven weeks. Besides being an English speaking country, London is a big city. Some people like to say that big cities around the world are all pretty much the same. They all have the same chain restaurants, retail shops, and crowds of people, and it’s only once you get off the beaten path that you can really immerse yourself in the culture. I think we did that, or tried as best we could. We jam-packed our seven weeks, whether it was heading to Shoreditch, getting to know Chinatown, or hanging out in Covent Garden. We found our favorite ice cream shops, pubs, restaurants, and parks–and that’s what makes an experience in a big city yours. Like you said, being there for Brexit made our experience even more unique. This was such an exiting time to be in London, especially because of both of our majors, and we’ll have lots to talk about in our next interviews. I’m glad you decided to take the jump across the pond, and I’m glad I got to do it with you buddy.

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