Three hundred and seventy-five

19 Oct

August 15, 2010 to August 25, 2011. 375 days, to be exact. Spent in London, England.

And now I’m home. Back in the United States. A country that somehow became foreign to me as I explored foreign countries. Weird? Yeah.

Sitting here, it’s kind of like a ‘scratch your head moment.’ Did that year really happen? I blinked and suddenly I had lived in Maida Vale and Canary Wharf, worked at an international law firm, met people from all over the world and traveled to nine countries and cities whose names I can’t even pronounce.

People have asked me what I learned in London, what I would miss the most. I can sit here and say that I learned more in my one year living abroad than I did in all my years of schooling combined. I learned that a mistake was no longer getting an answer wrong on an exam, it was scheduling a meeting in Dubai for 3am UK time because you forgot the time difference. It was learning how the UK system of law works and applying it to the tasks that needed to get done. It was learning how to take initiative and it was learning how to to have confidence in my abilities and my knowledge. It was understanding that mistakes are inevitable and will be made, but it’s how I dealt with them and fixed them and kept a level head throughout the process that would be the true test.

I explored more than I ever have before. I wandered streets, I napped in parks, I researched languages and slept in dirty hostels because I wasn’t about to let my meager salary stop me from seeing as much as I could. I got a terrible sunburn in Turkey, missed the last bus home in Portugal, chugged out of a beer stein in Munich and saw a frozen waterfall in Reykjavik. I took planes, busses, taxis, trains, subways and walked until my loose shoe fell off a bridge in Istanbul. I slept in airports to catch 5am flights. I gathered postcards and little treasures in each city to take part of that culture home with me.

I met people from all over the U.S. who had decided to take this ridiculous, wonderful adventure, too. We went to concerts in Hyde Park, took over pubs after work, put on ridiculous outfits to go watch a polo match. We ran around London like it was our playground and we understood that we had 365 days to love on this city like it was the last thing we would ever do. We missed our families and friends, yeah, but we spent the holidays and birthdays and milestones together. We lived together, ate together, traveled together and in one year of friendship, learned more about each other than some of our lifelong friends at home knew about us.

And London. Oh, my wonderful London. You gave me everything. You were as much part of my education as anything else was. You taught me how to be assertive and how to stand up for myself. You showed me beauty in history, in architecture, in culture. You showed me kindness in strangers and love in new friends. You were magic. You taught me to walk with confidence and to push for what I deserve. You brought me to my knees as your overwhelming power crushed me and humbled me. You left me in tears sometimes as you chewed me up and spit me out. You made me happier than I have ever felt and you made me love you like I’ve never loved a city before. Don’t worry, London, we’re not done with each other. You haven’t seen the last of me. I’ll be back. Count on it.

In 375 days, I became a citizen of the world. I became a new person, and one that I am proud to be. My year in London sent me down a path that I will follow for the rest of my life. And now, the path has led to me New York, New York, a city that I have always dreamed of. I will take all that I’ve learned and apply it to the one passion that has been with me my entire life: becoming a writer. While this chapter comes to a close, another one reopens. Follow me here, and watch as I turn the page and begin the next phase. It’s been a wonderful year with you. Thanks so much for reading and being a part of it.

Cheers.

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