Well, I’m not actually in London at the moment. I was on the move for the whole 5 days I was there and I had no time to write this blog post. Just bare with me. Traveling and keeping you people updated at the same time is hard.
After I left Lanark, I traveled to Inverness with my aunt. She came during my last week in Lanark and did some traveling on her own while I finished up working. She’s a great traveling companion because she’s laid back and willing to try just about anything. It also helped that I had been to both Inverness and London before so I sort of knew what I was doing. While in Inverness, we went to Loch Ness (obviously. Did you really go to Scotland if you didn’t show your aunt Loch Ness?), and visited Culloden Battlefield. Let me say to all the people who went on the England/Scotland trip in January of 2012, we seriously missed out when we didn’t get to see the visitors centre and use the audio guides for the actual field. It was incredible. Not to mention, the weather in June is much better than Northern Scotland in January. The weather for the whole time we were in Inverness was absolutely glorious.
London was a different story. If you follow world news at all, which you should, you uncultured swine, you will know that England had record breaking heat. And it just so happen that the record breaking heat occurred when I was there. Lovely. Seriously, it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at 6pm. And our hostel had no air conditioning. I understand no AC in Scotland; you don’t need it. Ever. But it was over 100 DEGREES. AND WE WERE IN A ROOM WITH 16 OTHER PEOPLE. Our room was the biggest one and the bunks were three high and of course I had the very top bunk that was BEHIND the open window. In the middle of the night, I had to wet one of my socks and put it over my face because I actually thought I might die. So to my great surprise, I woke up the next morning and it was as if London decided to quit throwing a tantrum because the weather was beautiful.
I took my aunt to Baker Street, so we could look at Daunt’s Book (if you’re a book-addict and you are ever in London, you are an idiot if you miss it.) We wandered around Piccadilly Circus, ate at the biggest Whole Food store I’ve ever seen in my life, and went to a West End show that night. We saw Les Misérable, which I wanted to see 6 years ago when I went to London with my dad and now that I’ve seen it, I’m mentally kicking myself for thinking the tickets were too expensive. It was absolutely incredible. The showmanship, the set, the costumes, the emotions, it was all there and it was all perfect. I would happily have returned to the U.S. on that note. Janine (my aunt) and I were talking about it the whole hour home.
The next day we explored the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, which are even more beautiful in the sun (have I mentioned that I’ve never been anywhere in the UK in the summer. Always winter. This summer was an new amazing experience.) The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben were cool to see again and I loved seeing London for the first time again through my aunt’s eyes.
I did a lot of reflection in London about how lucky I am to have this experience, to see this amazing country through someone else’s eyes and to discover new things about Scotland, England, and myself. I am very different person now than I was when I left the U.S. Traveling on your own and being the foreigner has a way of changing you as a person. Things that use to bother me no longer seem important. I’ve been taught to re-prioritize the things that are important. Material stuff is not important. Sure, I love stuff. I have a lot of stuff. More than I will ever need. But it’s nothing in comparison to the memories and the experience. What good would this internship have been if I had just sat in my hostel for 6 weeks. If I had said no to manning the music at my boss’s dance show, to traveling with my friend Emily, to traveling with my aunt, to spending a week alone in a country that doesn’t speak English (that would be where I currently am, in France).
You hear young people talk about seeing the world but I actually am. World travel seems like no big deal to me for several reasons. One, I’ve done it before. Two, my dad does it for a living. I’ve grown up listening to his tales of travel. Three, my sister is Korean. Living with her is like having a Korean community living inside an American one. And it’s glorious. Four, so many of my friends have been blessed with opportunities to travel. But as I sat in my hostel in London, listening to a raging thunderstorm, I was suddenly reminded of what a privilege it was to be there. Just because lots of people in my life are world travelers certainly does not mean that most people are. I had a life-changing experience that I would not trade for anything. I am sitting in my French friend’s living room, listening to the bustling life of Lille, France, thinking that I am the luckiest 21 year old on the planet. Because my parents aren’t guilt-tripping me into coming home. Because my friends aren’t moaning about how much they miss me. Because my host friend isn’t making me feel like a bother. A lot of people that I know think that the world is a big, bad place. And it is, I think. But there are so many beautiful qualities of people.
This whole experience, living in Scotland, being in London, traveling around France, has taught me many things but I think the most blatantly obvious thing that it has taught me is this: that hospitality, love, good manners, kindness, and laughter transcend all culture and language barriers.
Until next time,