Classes are starting soon, ending what has been one hell of a summer.
So I thought I'd use this "free time" I'm never gonna have again for a while to reflect back on everything that has happened not only this past summer, but this past year as well. So much has happened in my life this past year that I cannot sum up in just a few words. A lot of self-discovery, growth, realization - but also a lot of self-doubt, confusion, and fear.
It's bout to get deep ya'll.
But BEFORE I get all emoshunal ~ Let me reflect back on my summer abroad.
If you ask me what my favorite city is, hands down: London (surprise, surprise)
I was posted in London for about a week after my program, ending my stay in Europe there. I don't know what it is, but every time I'm in London, I feel like I have all the time in the world. There's SO much to do there, it's crazy. And everything is always a tube ride away.
I love the diversity in London - Chinatown, markets with all these diff cultural foods, bougie Oxford Street, grunge-y Camdentown, hip AF Shoreditch, and the bustling city life. You can never get bored.
Markets were my fave - endless booths of food, cool clothes, and small trinkets. My favorite has to be Camden Market, because the food was A+ and has a lot of other little shops with really cool things.
Shoreditch is THE best spot in London, hipsters galore and young adult friendly. Quiet during the day, alive during the night - it fully captures the street culture of London. There are a lot of cool coffeeshops, bars, and restaurants here, and it's always poppin at night, no matter what day it is. I love all the little stores too, the interior of every single one is incredible.
Another place I really liked was a small area called Little Venice, just down the street from where I was staying. Located within a little business area, a small canal runs through tall buildings and into a residential area. Honorable to it's name - small gondala-like boats were docked along the canal. The thing that was cool about this place was that these boats were like tiny boathouses, where people could actually live in. The business district was nice too, cool restaurants and coffeeshops right in front of the canal.
I frolicked around Hyde Park for a day, and it was so so nice. London's parks are massive, and always full of locals just hanging out. Great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle outside of the trees.
I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour too! Such feels :') It felt so cool to walk the same exact grounds where all the movies were filmed. Scope pics in the photos page. LOVE LIVE HOGWARTS.
I felt the most peace whenever I was in London. It felt natural - like I could really see myself living there. I could go on and on, but I think I've covered most of the basics. With so much to do in this city, I'm sure there is so much more that I could have explored. But from what I had the pleasure of experiencing, London will always have a piece of my heart.
Before I began my study abroad program, I was a giant ball of emotions. I was excited to finally have the opportunity to go to Europe, but for some reason, I couldn't ignore that sting inside me that said "I don't want to go." I grew a lot closer to my friends the previous year, and was really enjoying my time at home. To be truthful, I think I was afraid of the fact that I would be (at the beginning) experiencing this new journey alone.
I was scared, as much as I didn't want to admit it. But ultimately I was excited - ready to travel, live, and experience things on my own.
Before I left, I was out at dinner one night talking to one of my dearest friends. I told her I was excited because I thought that this experience was going to "change" me, or help me "figure my life out." She nodded, looked at me and said, "You can definitely hope for that, but don't expect that to actually happen."
It was one of the realest things anyone has ever said to me. Because she was so right.
I don't think my summer helped me figure my life out - I'm still at the same place I was before I left. However, it did change me in certain aspects, for the better. I've become more keen to who I am, what I like, and it really brought me back down to earth. I discovered more about my personal strengths and weaknesses, my specific interests, and how I handle certain situations.
I missed my friends and wished they were with me, but I made amazing memories with some great people I'd love to stay in touch with. I missed the convenience of having a car, but I grew to love public transportation. I missed the warm SoCal weather, but I grew to love the beautiful clouds in England.
All I can say is that I am thankful. I'm thankful to have been given this opportunity that some may never get to experience. The last thing I want to do is analyze the pros and cons of each thing, because it sounds so superficial to me - like I'm just doing it for shits n' gigs. You don't have to travel to discover things about yourself. Traveling isn't for everyone, and I am completely aware that people can be perfectly happy without it. But I write about my travels because I want it to be known that there is so much to experience out in the world, and I want to share it with others. It doesn't matter if it's overseas, across the state-border line, or even where you live. I'm a firm believer that life is about the experiences - the moments that really make us stop and think about what is going on and all the possibilities we have yet to discover.
In one of my favorite movies, "Into The Wild," Emile Hirsch plays Christopher McCandless, an American adventurer who left society to find himself through solitude in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. [SPOILER ALERT] At the end, before he dies alone in an abandoned van in the woods, he writes in a book, "Happiness only real when shared."
I find this to become one of my favorite quotes - because I believe that self-discovery can't be done solely through solitude. Christopher had the right idea to seek adventure, but it's the people in your life who also shape who you are and who you want to be. Without the people I have met this past year and without my family I don't think I would be the person I am today.
Sure, I haven't found that passion for what I want to do with my life. I'm still not 100% sure of who I am, or 100% in love with myself. But what I do have is a passion for life, and love, itself. And that, for now at least, is enough for me.
So here's a big shout out to my ma and pa for raising me and giving me this chance to see just another small piece of the world. Shout out to my friends who give me a place to be happy and to be myself. Shoutout to all the amazing people I met abroad, and all the happiness we shared together this summer.
The world is a beautiful place. Life is a beautiful thing. The people in it are your blessings. Go see it, go live it, and share the happiness with your loved ones.
It's much lighter than you think.