The past two weeks have felt unbalancing, exciting, disorienting, surprising, and thrilling all at the same time. I just wanted to touch on a few of those moments throughout the ups and downs of the two weeks.
Lost or Wandering? I arrived at my dorm, Passfield hall, a weekend before the arrival of rest of my hallmates, which allowed me time to get acclimated to the city of London. Getting acclimated means wandering. And wandering means admiring and soaking in the architecture, people and culture while unknowingly walking in circles. I was bound to get lost so I embraced it early. Wandering was great way to just enjoy my time and learn to navigate London. I was able to get a more structured tour of London during a night walk with my fellow hallmates on this past Wednesday. The pictures above are some of the sights I saw on my wanderings.
Rewinding two years: My first week in London, “Freshers’ week”, has felt like someone pressed rewind on my life to two years ago to orientation week at CWRU. Having idealized my orientation week at CWRU in my memory, experiencing it again reminded me of the unnerving excitement to starting university for the first time and anxiety of making friends and acclimating to the new environment. The week was filled with nostalgia as I remembered the amazing individuals I am a still friends with that I met at CWRU orientation week two years ago. But the reassuring part of going through LSE orientation was realizing the amount I have grown through my time at CWRU.
Language barriers? Two countries with the same language separated by one ocean, shouldn’t be that hard to acclimate right? Even through both Americans and Brits speak the same language, the cultural differences in attitudes and mannerisms still exist. I am slowly picking up the differences in words (example: elevator vs. lift and line vs. queue) in Britain. Talking to my parents about the differences in words has been fun because they recognize all the words I find different since they had grown up in India using some British English. It is great to see my mom gets excited about the random British words I balk at.
Books are too real. While living in DC with my sister and cousins over the summer, a town house a few doors down would place random things on the porch for anyone walking by to take for free. The items varied from a laundry basket to mugs to books. On my way to my internship, I would walk past the house everyday. I picked up one of those books simply because it was by a familiar author, Ian McEwan. I also happened to bring that same book to London as a travel read without ever opening it. The first quote of the book was the following:
“Traveling is brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sun, the sky – all the things tending toward the eternal or what we imagine of it”
Reading the quote on my first day in London was shocking because it had fit my experience thus far perfectly. But having spent almost two weeks in London, I would only like to add my own spin on the quote. Traveling is brutality in the best way. It challenges you. Feeling off balance is freeing with the right mindset. Because what else do you really need other than “air, sleep, dreams, sun, the sky” and maybe your imagination.