Going into this trip, I decided that I wanted to fully experience all that London has to offer. I found a university student ministry connected to my church in the States, and I contacted them to join for the summer. I wanted to serve the ministry and ultimately grow closer to the people. I thought it would just be a fairly normal experience meeting new people, but it was so much more than that.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by the women’s leader holding a sweet little sign with my name on it. She helped me get my first Oyster Card and navigate the tube to get into central London. We chatted the whole way there, and it was the most encouraging start possible to my trip. There was a girl in the ministry who was kind enough to open her flat to me and let me stay with her for a few days before I was able to move into the official trip accommodations. She bought me food, cooked dinner for me, and we sat at her dinner table all night getting to know one another. I eventually met one of her flatmates, who was genuinely one of the sweetest people I have ever met. They both made my first few days so wonderful due to their hospitality and generosity. I grabbed coffee with a wonderful new friend my first morning, and spent the evening meeting the rest of the ministry. The next day, one of the girls took me to Camden Town and took me to a quaint, but lovely café for lunch. She invited me over to her flat where we made macaroons and I was able to spend quality time with some of the girls in the ministry. I also met her flatmates, who quickly became some of my closest friends. The next day, I spent time with one of my friends that I met on a mission trip in Croatia as well as one of his best friends. We went biking throughout London, walked across the Thames, and ended up at a local restaurant where we sat and caught up late into the evening. I was able to go to church with one of the girl’s flats on Sunday morning, then we got pizza and had a picnic at Primrose Hill. We ended up staying there all afternoon talking and laughing about nearly everything under the sun.
Why share all of this? Today, someone asked me what my favorite part of London was so far. For me, it was an easy answer. The people. Since my arrival, I have been overcome with love, hospitality, and acceptance. Even though I just joined this group, I never felt like a newcomer. In getting to know all of these amazing people, I have learned that not only are Brits proud of their city and country, but they are also some of the most kind, genuine, and wonderful people I have ever met. I fell in love with this place because of who they are. There are no words to describe how positive my experience these first couple days has been, and I cannot wait to see how the rest of my time here unfolds. My advice to any student who is truly looking to immerse themselves in their new place: make friends with the people who live there. Maybe there is some sort of rec league that you could join, or maybe it could be as simple as going to a coffee shop and saying hello to someone. A country is only as good as the people in it. I can truly say, without hesitation, that Brits are the greatest people I have ever met.