It was exactly a year ago to the day that I finished my last final and put the finishing touches on my sophomore year of college. Finally finishing another year of school is one of the most rewarding feelings out there. Now that it’s 12 months later the same scenario has arrived yet again. However this time around my emotions couldn’t be any more different. I’m trying as hard as I can to slow down time and not have to finish the exam period. Not because I won’t be happy when I’m done with studying, but instead because I know what awaits me when that time comes. In the meantime, it’s been a typically busy few weeks in London. As I briefly mentioned last time my parents came all the way over to spend some time with me. I’m so thankful for everything that they’ve done to make it possible for me to have this opportunity, and even more blessed that I could share some of it with them. By now I’m pretty sure I could double as a tour guide with all the times I’ve shown off this wonderful city. This isn’t a complaint in the least bit, for each time I get to see London is another blessing in itself. After taking my parents to all of the customary sites, we were able to do some things I hadn’t yet got around to. I’m not really sure why, but I had never done the tour of Westminster Abbey in my first seven months here. Luckily my parents and I got to get in right before it closed one afternoon. The list of famous cathedrals that I’ve visited seems like it’s infinite, but the Abbey is one that really made an impression on me. In few other places have I felt such a sense of history and tradition than when I walked into this cathedral. It’s so surreal to consider the legacy that a building like that has with its monarchs and world figures buried all around it. One of my favorite parts of the tour was seeing the Coronation Chair. It’s remarkable to think about how many kings and queens have been crowned in the same seat sitting right in front of me. Another was the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior that rests right at the entrance of the Abbey. Within it lies the body of an unidentified British soldier killed in action during World War I. There’s something very moving about burying a common soldier among the kings and queens that he gave his life fighting for.
I was hoping at some point to take my parents outside the craziness of London, and we got that opportunity later in the week. We boarded a train at rainy London Bridge and a mere hour later we pulled into sunny Brighton, England. There are a lot of stereotypes about English weather, but I’ll tell you now that not all of them are true. England is not an island that has clouds and rain nearly everyday. While it can be miserable at times, there are numerous other occasions when it’s absolutely stunning outside. On this particular day Brighton could have easily passed for a city in the French Riviera. The world felt right as I sat with my parents on the sun soaked Brighton Pier and enjoyed some traditional fish and chips. Later on we got to walk around and explore the city a little better. Brighton is somewhat similar to San Francisco with its rolling hilled streets and coastal backdrop. I really wish we could’ve stayed for longer than an afternoon but everything has an end like I’m being to learn.
After a couple more quiet days back in London it was time for my parents to head back. It’s always sad having to say goodbye to people, but it was a little easier this time knowing that I’ll see them again in under a month. As I thought about this fact it really started to hit me that my time is almost up. I’ve convinced myself that if I don’t think about it then it might not actually happen. There’s not much logic in this concept, but it’s about that time to start getting desperate. The whole prospect of exams doesn’t make the process any easier. Fortunately, I was able to relax before hitting the books as I took another trip to the south coast to visit a friend in Bournemouth. Even though I’ve only had brief experiences, the south coast of England is one of my favorite places that I’ve visited. Not many things are better than sun, beaches, and still being on the British Isles. My friend spent the whole day showing me around as we biked along the coast. I didn’t realize how nice it was to actually be able to hear birds again instead of horns and sirens. We even stopped at this quaint little pub tucked into the countryside for a great lunch. The English lifestyle is definitely something that I’m going to miss when back home. Nearly everyone you meet is incredibly friendly, helpful, and laidback. It’s not like people back home aren’t similar, but there’s just a certain charm that the British have to them that makes them so unique.
As I currently write this I’m nearing the tail end of my exam period. I’ve already taken four and my last one is at the end of this week. The whole exam process is a bit different here, but not anything to drastic. Since I’ve been here for a year I have had two exams from classes I took in the fall. It’s definitely strange to study for a class that you haven’t been to or thought about for five months, but they both went really well. On that note I should probably go and study for my last exam so I don’t jinx myself. It’s sad to think that this will be the last post I write here in London, but I’ll be sure to write a huge review post as soon as I get settled back in the States. Until then…