With finals coming up and less than a week left in this incredible city, I have been extremely reflective recently. Although my mind has been focusing on fun facts about the BBC, British Reggae, and Henry V (these are the types of cool things that I have been studying over the past semester), my mind has also been focusing on how far I have come since arriving waaay back in September.
Upon arriving in London I set a few goals for myself. These goals ranged from "learn how to navigate the Tube" to "eat traditional fish n' chips" to "learn something new about British culture." While I accomplished almost all of the goals that I set for myself, I realized that I accomplished so much more than I originally set out to do.
Not only did I learn how to navigate the Tube, but I taught my visiting friends and family how the tube works and how NOT to ride the tube (although they occasionally stood on the wrong side of the escalators they eventually got the hang of it)
Not only did I try fish n' chips, but I tried fish n' chips in multiple parts of England - Brighton, York, and of course London just to name a few!
Not only did I learn something new about British culture, but I learned TONS about British culture. From British politicians (Corbyn, Cameron, Farage) to British bands (The Specials, The Who, The Kinks) to British terms (cheeky, aubergine, full stop) I learned more than I ever imagined I would learn.
Over these past few months London has become my city. I'm not saying that London is only mine, but that everyone has their own London made up of different things that they have experienced and grown to love. My London is made up of quaint cafes where I go to study, incredible theatrical shows and performances, late nights filled with dancing, the 25 minute walk to the IES Abroad Center, some of the best English Breakfast Tea, the commotion and constant foot traffic surrounding the South Bank during the day, the serene twinkling lights against the Thames on the South Bank at night, the strong wind that makes it impossible to use an umbrella, Harry Potter everywhere, and some of the friendliest, most incredibly diverse and wonderful people.
My London may be completely different from everyone else's, but it's the London that I'm going to remember and cherish for the rest of my life!
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<p>Natalie Walden is a Junior at Penn State University, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in International Studies and Vocal Performance. On any given day, you can find her around campus singing with her a cappella group or drinking Jamba Juice at one of the HUB tables. She is a brother of Phi Sigma Pi honors fraternity and one of the THON chairs of the Oriana Singers and Glee Club THON organization. Her talents include impersonating Britney Spears/Shakira and binge watching shows on Netflix (which she will not be doing much of while abroad...). Natalie has never been to Europe before and can't wait to share all of her amazing adventures across the pond!</p>