london

So many people.

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Friday, 11 July 2014

9:50am

I have seen so many people since stepping off the plane at Heathrow terminal 3..

And by ‘people’ I don’t mean it was crowded (which it was). I mean diligent, hard-working people. The ones that keep one of the busiest airports in the world functioning not only properly, but efficiently. The ones at border control..in uniform, seemingly unperturbed by the lack of air flow and increasing number of screaming children. The ones holding the signs, patiently waiting for their passengers to present themselves bumbling with luggage. The ones leading large groups, such as ours, of wide-eyed college kids with a diminished sense of awareness. The ones driving the coaches who ensure that we arrive to our final destination because, let’s face it, just because the airplane lands does not mean you’ve made it yet.

 

*Side note: I’ve been reading a book called Londoners by Craig Taylor, which is basically a compilation of stories from a variety of people who have experience with life in London..”those who live it, love it, left it, and long for it” as he puts it. Taylor spent quite some time interviewing with people and discussing their view of London and how they define a ‘Londoner.’ He and the editor have arranged these short snippets to tell all kinds of stories about the people who call this place home. (It’s a fantastic book that I highly recommend to anyone interested in people, London, or just travel writing, in general.)

 

Now, as I gaze out the window on this pleasant coach ride from Heathrow to Hampstead, I see the ones in yellow rain coats and hard hats who, like those at border control, seem unperturbed by the drizzle. Then it occurs to me. These people have stories. Someone grew up in those houses. Those buildings have history. I don’t much of anything about these people other than their occupations, but I do know one thing. They’re the ones I’ve been reading about. They are Londoners.

 

So here I am, typing this out on my iPhone so I can somehow make it stick to my memory, I shift my focus back and forth between the raindrops on the window and the quintessentially english houses we’re beginning to pass (for those who speak film: I was rack-focusing with my eyes)..they always remind me of Stuart Little..the one with Hugh Laurie..and baby Tom Felton..the iron gates..the peeling paint..the green spaces..

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Out on the green at the King’s College Hampstead Residence

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edited/published: Monday 14 July 2014

 

 

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I am so UNgrateful.

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I’ve come to a place in my life where I am finally doing the things that 16-year old me could only dream about. I’m a semester away from my senior year of college, I’ve just returned from my first trip out of the country, I have friends across the States (many of them venturing overseas), and all the while I’m pursuing my passion for filmmaking. Now, I’d be doing myself a serious injustice if I said this doesn’t make me immensely happy. I’m approaching a chapter of life that makes most people cringe, but I refuse to look at it with anything but adventurous expectancy. Does student debt scare me? Abso-freakin-lutely. But, would I change anything about my experience at university and the people and places it’s brought me to? Not one bit. I am so ready to see what the future holds and I’m just excited about life, basically.

Now..you’re probably wondering where the title of this blog post comes into all this. At least I hope that’s what you’re thinking since I just spent an entire paragraph acknowledging the ways life is beautiful.
But, if I’m being completely honest, my arrival back in the States has been one of the hardest transitions I have ever been through. Jumping straight into classes, while recovering from jetlag and battling post-travel sickness, has brought me to the lowest I have been in quite some time–physically, mentally, and spiritually. I spent the last week feeling sorry for myself, something I’m really not accustomed to. Now I’m back in school? It seems a bit..superfluous, really. I mean, homework? I just went on this amazing adventure and coming to terms with the fact that it’s over has been really difficult. Partly because London itself was The most exciting, accepting, beautiful, historically-rich place I’ve ever been, but mostly because this was more than just a trip. It was my first true adventure.

I know, I know, I still haven’t gotten to the bit about the blog title, but I’m getting there. A few nights ago, as I was walking back from class..alone at night..trudging through the cold rain..pity party, table for one..I did what I usually do to occupy myself, call mom.
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m feeling homesick, it’s usually the most general conversation topics that make me break down..so my mom is like, Have you been to the grocery store yet? and I’m all *tears* noo, because I’m back in America and I’m not even at home, and I’m sick and, and why am I still in school and and when can I go back…”

So, I finally broke. I cried about everything I’d been holding in over the past week. But her reaction isn’t quite what I expected. And really, I don’t even know what I was expecting in the first place. All I know is I felt like crying about it. We talked for a minute or two, but she wasn’t exactly giving me much sympathy. (If you’re reading this mom, don’t feel bad, you’re the spark for the epiphany that became this blog post.) After hanging up, I just sat in silence for several minutes trying to figure out how to convey my emotions in a more mature, productive manner. But I only came to one conclusion. That is I am spoiled. Not financially or with material possessions, but I have been blessed with more opportunities and wonderful people than I could have ever thought possible. I’ve gotten so wrapped up and excited about planning for the future that for the first time I’ve given up on what’s right in front of me. How dare I forget that?

The next day I woke up with a new attitude. My head was clear…no but literally, the sinus pressure was starting to subside so..my head was..in fact, clear.
Anywho, with less sickness and a more positive outlook, Hump Day was shaping up to be the best day I’ve had in America this year. And there wasn’t anything special to it…I had breakfast, went to French class, came back and had lunch. Oh! and then spent the afternoon chilling with friends rewatching the 4-part Rickshaw Run series from Jacksgap on YouTube.
I have no shame in saying this, those boys inspire me. Their passion for filmmaking and their excitement about life is exactly what keeps me going and it’s why I do what I do. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about click here……. It’ll make your day.)

So. To recap. I’ve been ungrateful. I was basically being a brat because I miss England and my mom reminded me that God has lots of adventurous things in my future, but for now I’m at a wonderful private university where I have the privilege of studying what I love and being surrounded by amazing friends in the process. I’ve, yet again, been humbled by my experience abroad and now I’m more grateful than ever.
If I’ve captured your attention this long..snaps for you! Hope you’ve enjoyed reading how I’ve been stepping on my own toes. Thanks for visiting.

Bon week-end!!
xoxo,

Shelby

new year, new horizons.

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Here I am. Four days after my return to the U.S. after my first trip out of the country. I’m not sure how capable I am of describing this remarkable experience with words, but I’m convinced that if I don’t at least try, I will daydream my life away. Not to mention, I will almost certainly lose friends on account of I can no longer have a conversation that doesn’t in some way pertain to “when I was in England…”

Since touching down in Chicago, I’ve been battling post-travel sickness and the inevitable jetlag that results from jumping 6 time zones in a single day. But this is all expected. What I didn’t expect was how different things would feel after just 13 days and I’m not just talking about the accents, or the time change, or the food…everything. As I began recounting stories over dinner with some of my closest girlfriends, one interrupted me saying, “You look different.” I waved off her flattery, but then it hit me. “I feel different,” I said. There was another moment of exchanging knowing glances, followed by one final conclusion from my other girlfriend, “It’s because you are different.” I can’t help but smile to myself when I think about how true that is.

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to go abroad and see such amazing and beautiful places, not to mention meet such wonderful people along the way. I have made friends with people I would’ve never known existed and memories to last a lifetime. So to every family member, friend, professor, coworker, boss, and everyone in between who supported me on this adventure, I offer to you my sincerest thanks.

I have a plethora of stories about London, which I’m sure I’ll write about from time to time, but for now I’d just like to say Happy New Year. I hope each of you greets 2014 with an adventurously expectant spirit, allowing past experiences to shape, not define, who you are.

Cheers! To a new year and new horizons!