Though it is hard to believe, I have now been in London for three weeks and will soon depart for Oxford to start my term at St. Catherine’s College.
I am incredibly fortunate to have had this experience in this wonderful city. When I arrived, I was jet-lagged and had no idea what I was doing or how to get anywhere. As with any new situation, it was uncomfortable at first and took some getting used to. It was like starting college all over again, because I was in a new place with new people. A major hurdle was the tube system. It is very technical and a little overwhelming, so I needed some patient people to explain it to me.
What surprised me the most was how quickly things clicked and began to make sense. When I was thinking about my time in London before my departure, what I really wanted to do was explore. However, I wasn’t sure if I would feel comfortable walking around by myself, or if I would be able to find the time to explore once my class began.
To my surprise, just a few days after I arrived, I was spending whole days on my own exploring the city. What I loved so much about these days is that I did not plan out any of them. One day I decided to go to the London Eye, since that was one of the big things I wanted to see. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure how I would spend the rest of the day, and I was worried I wouldn’t be making good use of my time in London.
To my delight, filling the rest of the day proved easy. My day took me from the London Eye across Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to the Cabinet War Rooms, another destination I’d been meaning to see.
I had several days like this, where I started out with one destination in mind and ended up filling the day with ease. It was never difficult to find something to eat, so I also got to have a lot of delicious meals along the way.
Out of all the big cities I have been in, London is the one I have felt the most at-ease in. The public transport system is very consistent, and apps like Citymapper make it really easy to find a tube station. I will confess I have used the tube more than the bus because I have always gone to the wrong side of the road when walking to the bus station. Some instincts have proven hard to shake.
There have been some experiences I’ve had in London that will definitely stick with me. One of the most common advertisements I saw in the tube stations was for plays. When I saw one for Les Misérables, I decided to try and see it. I was able to get tickets fairly easily, and the show completely blew me away, and now I recommend that anyone who goes to London see at least one show during their visit.
Another place I knew I wanted to check out was the Christie’s auction house. As a devout watch nerd, I knew that the watch from No Time to Die would be up for auction along with a selection of other Bond memorabilia. Luckily for me, the items were on display while I was in the city. And to my great surprise and delight, one of the employees asked me if I wanted them to open any of the cases. Moments later, I found myself holding the watch Daniel Craig wore in his final Bond film. Needless to say, this was one of the biggest highlights of my time here.
Another highlight came from the only event I bought tickets for in advance. I knew I wanted to see a football match while I was here, and I was able to get tickets to the England versus Germany game at Wembley Stadium. The game was fantastically tense and exciting, and I found myself cheering like crazy with nearly 80,000 people whenever England scored. The energy and passion for football here is something I am so grateful to have experienced.
My History of London tutorial has also been quite an experience. My professor has lived in London for most of his life, so it has been a wonderful experience to do our field studies with him and see the events we study firsthand. The Oxford system has proved a new type of challenge, but it has been worth taking on. It has been fun to do independent research while still getting a chance to do some exploring. It has been the perfect way to prepare for what awaits me at Oxford, and I am ready to immerse myself even more in the academics.
But throughout the past three weeks, there is one moment that stands out to me the most. Just a few days after I got here, we went on our walking tour of London with IES Abroad. After the tour ended, me and some friends ended up at the Tower of London. As we took some time to rest, I found myself leaning against a railing and looking out across the Thames. The sun was shining, I was right next to Tower Bridge, and I was able to take a moment to take it all in. I realized that I was finally here after so much time and planning. After so much anxiety over whether I would be able to have this experience, it had arrived, and I was already enjoying every second of it. It was one of the most peaceful moments of my life, and a moment I will never forget.
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My name is Brady Judd. I am from Mill Creek, Washington, and I am a third-year history major at Whitworth University. As a history nerd, I am incredibly excited to be traveling to the UK. I have also long been a fan of British culture, watching shows like "Top Gear" and "Sherlock" as I grew up. I am an avid learner, so I can't wait to share all of the things I will be discovering with you.