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A Love Poem for London

a wise man who would know
told me that you will never see
the exact same London twice
and I believe him
because I have seen a thousand
Londons in far less days

from the back alley curry houses
   in Tower Hamlets to

Fleet Street whirling by from the front seat
     top level of a double-decker bus to

the awareness of spanning the entire
    Earth at once on that line in Greenwich to

the quiet absurdity of the fountains
    at Trafalgar Square bubbling in the rain to

the jeering football fans sloshing pints
    at a pub in Angel to

the lights of Westminster twinkling
   from the top of the London Eye to

the homeless man I pass every day at
   King’s Cross, lost among the travellers to

the whirling mass of plaid-clad bodies
   at a Scottish ceilidh in Hammersmith
       where a man in a kilt kissed my cheek—

don’t be jealous, London.

you have kissed both of my cheeks,
pulled me in with open arms and endless accents,
whispered to me across foggy moonlit cityscapes,
took my breath away (it rose up visibly into the chilly air),
indulged my sense of adventure,

and refused to let go
of my heart.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I wrote a cheesy love poem for London. I am in love with this city, with the people I have met, and with the classes I am taking. But every good relationship has to start somewhere. How did I know that IES Abroad’s London Health Practice and Policy Program was right for me?

This past summer I spent four days in London, and it was love at first sight. There was something about the city’s cosmopolitan and intercultural feel and strong sense of history that spoke to me deeply. I realized very quickly that I needed to get back.

I scoured my university’s study abroad course listings in London, hoping for a match that would let me take classes for my international studies major and public health minor at the same time. The IES Abroad Health Practice and Policy Program appeared, (accompanied, at least in my head) by angelic music and fat cherubs.

There was nothing about the program description that I didn’t love. I could take two classes for my major’s Europe concentration and two for my minor, including a class at Oxford University. I would get to volunteer on the ground with an English charity. To top it all off, I would spend nine days in Jamaica. The pièce de résistance? I would have the chance to take a class in Comparative Social Policy, the subject I want to study in a Master’s program.

So how will you know if a study abroad program is right for you?

Every person is different, so every perfect program is too. You should look at the course listings, scan the web pages, ask the alumni, and read the reviews. You should research locations and meet with your study abroad advisors. Maybe it’s love at first sight or maybe you need some convincing. Listen to yourself, too.

London and I are very happy together. We wish you the best of luck in finding your perfect study abroad match!