"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
July 3, 2013
Walking where Dead People Live - by Michela Hunter
by College Voices
Michela Hunter
Sophomore, Brigham Young University

It’s about 10:00 here as I write this, but it looks like what passes for eightish back home on a summer night: the sky just barely darkened, the night beginning to settle. The sun sets much later and rises much earlier on this city than what I am used to. The sounds of cars whizzing by in the street continue as night falls, and the streetlamps cast a dim orange glow on the restaurants and shops below.

I’ve been here for almost three days now, but it still hasn’t hit me that I’m in London. 

To be honest, the trip (“across the pond” as they say) is still a blur; even though it’s only Wednesday, it feels like it was forever ago. I can’t seem to register that Sunday night I flew out of Baltimore and Monday morning landed in London — or, furthermore, that I did the trip partly on my own.

This whole expedition feels like some sort of dream, kind of surreal. I never imagined a year ago that I’d be on a study abroad this summer. But things happened, time passed quickly, and all of a sudden I’m here, much too quickly to think about how or why it happened.

I’m still fighting to throw off the jetlag. So far it hasn’t been too bad, and it can only get better. On Monday, Krista and I arrived, officially met our flatmates Katie and Michelle, moved in, got settled, and then we went off on one of our walks to explore the neighborhood a bit. Yesterday was another, much longer walk, and today was stuffed full of activities.

It’s a little nerve-racking and a lot of fun to find your way around the city. I haven’t gotten lost yet, but I’ve only been here three days. This morning Krista and I walked to our classes in Russell Square, then with some others to a Pret-A-Manger for lunch, and then, seeing as we were such good walkers and the distance on the map seemed short and simple, decided to take on the walk to Westminster Abbey to meet the rest of our study abroad group rather than catch a ride on the Tube. 

Big mistake! We felt fine walking there, but it took forever. By the time we finally found Westminster, met our professors and the other students, and began the tour, my legs were beginning to ache, and two and a half hours later, when the tour ended, they were screaming for mercy.

Mercy they did not receive, not for another half hour at least, since we had another walk to complete today. Once that was done, it was a quick but grueling trek to the nearest Tube station and another fifteen-minute wait while we waited for a train to take us back to our flats. Needless to say, my legs currently feel like they’re made of Jell-O. Hopefully they recover for the walk tomorrow.

We will have three classes while we’re here: English 212, which focuses on rhetoric; European Studies, which covers a vast span of British history; and London Walks, a series of assigned walks throughout the city that we complete ourselves and write about in a journal. Sounds like an easy Sunday walk, but the work promises to be rigorous.

Still, I can’t say I’m complaining. I’ve never been more fascinated by a lecture or more engrossed in a visit to a historical site as I was today in class and at Westminster. There are a ton of dead people buried in Westminster, which was extremely creepy to think about as I walked around inside of it.

But at the same time, it was weirdly cool to be in the same place these people had once walked, mere feet away from their alleged tombs. The stories and the histories culminating through the centuries and eras in that single building alone are more than I can take in, but they are so interesting that I was far from bored while walking through them.

Perhaps it’s just the novelty of being in a foreign city that makes it so exciting, but there’s something so different about actually being where the thing you’re learning about happened or was commemorated as opposed to just reading about it in a book in a classroom in Provo. It makes the classes come to life in a way.

And although I’m still a bit homesick, miss my family, hate that the Internet use here is very limited and that I automatically look the wrong way for cars when crossing the street, I can’t say that I regret at all deciding to spend my summer in London.

Whatever happens, this study abroad is going to be invaluable to my time in college — to my major, my education, and to my growth as a person. It’s going to be an adventurous seven weeks.

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