It’s hard to believe I was just in Scotland a couple of days ago and it’s hard to believe I’ve been in London for a little over three weeks already. This week started off rocky, I spent the first few days trying to catch up on sleep, laundry, grocery shopping, and work for my course while simultaneously still trying to enjoy myself here in London. I’ve spent a lot more time here in my dorm and on campus than I had during my first session where everyday I went out to explore a new part of the city. In the upcoming days I plan to shake things back up again and return back to my more productive self.
I think a lot of my exhaustion has to do with my transition into a new course this session and adjusting to the onslaught of new students on campus who have come here to Roehampton as a part of an English learning program this summer. The creative writing course I am taking now is intensive and I’ve been exerting a lot of my energy into keeping up with readings and writing. Thus far, the course has proven itself to be rewarding. I already feel like my writing has improved by simply experimenting with the new topics my professor has instructed us to write about paired with the consistent blogging I’ve been doing.
The course is called “Hidden London” and it’s an intensive course focused on creative writing, we try to write pieces that perhaps expose or unveil a part of London we did not previously know about (hence where the term “Hidden” comes into play) or utilize unique perspectives and characters specific to London in order to reveal a different aspect of it’s history. I haven’t produced anything heart-moving yet but just being in this type of creative writing environment has my heart elated.
I spent my Wednesday gathering myself together, cleaning my room, doing laundry and planning out my activities for the rest of the week and the weekend.
The following day, unlike the beginning of the week, I spent out and about in the city. My professor had a planned tour for us so we were all expected to find our way into the city centre by 1:45pm at St. James Park station. A classmate and I decided to meet up and venture to our meet up point together, which ended up becoming a an entire class commute because we all ended up taking the same bus at the same time.
I thought the heat wave of London was over and that I was safe from it for the rest of my time abroad but I was proved wrong; The weather was hot and the sun showed no mercy for us on this day.
Once we met up with our professor and guide at the rendezvous point we set off and class officially commenced. The tour was focused on one of our readings for the class, Mrs. Dalloway, and consisted of us trekking through the city in the heat for 2 hours listening to our guide as he explained vital locations mentioned in the novel. Staying attentive was a bit difficult considering the weather but I managed. Our guide’s accent had very much to do with my focus, as he read us excerpts of the novel at each location his voice made the words on the page sound more regal and interesting, much more interesting than when I read them myself the night prior. There’s just something about a British accent that makes everything sound better.
So we walked and we walked and we walked some more, visiting locations in the city I have been already and some I have not. We started near St.James Park Station, walked near the House of Parliament and Big Ben (Fun Fact: Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster not exactly the clock tower that we all know and love). From there we ventured though St. James Park and then to Green Park, Piccadilly Circus, walked passed Buckingham Palace at one point (which is only one of the homes of the Queen) and found ourselves ending at the West End area of London. We definitely covered a lot of ground and although it was a bit hot I appreciated the concept of class outside as opposed to our usual workshopping in the classroom; the experience was refreshing.
By the end of our excursion the class had ended up in the West End part of London, an area filled with a tremendous amount of expensive shops like Cartier and Tiffany’s that made me feel wildly out of place as a (financially inconvenienced) college student.
After the class was dismissed from our excursion a fellow classmate and I decided to escape this very bougie area (as I liked to call it) and venture a little further into the city to Covent Garden, an area known for its small market. Since we’d both spent a lot of time in our dorms this week we both wanted to spend a little more time off campus and since Covent Garden was only a 15-20 minute walk away we thought, why not? I’d learned to take advantage of my class trips to the city. I’m not sure if I mentioned this in prior posts but transportation in London is very expensive, it’s very easy (and heartbreaking) to spend approximately 4 pounds (which equates to approx $6) getting from my campus to the city centre. I typically explore areas further once class is over and we’re dismissed.
I learned today that Covent Garden is less of a garden and more of a market, which is a little misleading but didn’t hinder my impression of it. It’s actually a small market area filled with shops, cute restaurants and with streets occupied with performers.
We walked along inside the market place in awe at all the cute hand made art available for sale, and at the shops handing out free samples of chocolate and tea. I had to maintain some self restraint as to not purchase some of the delicious looking desserts I saw throughout the place. Dark chocolate is my weakness and I was struggling to stay strong after a woman handed me a sample of pink lemonade and cream infused dark chocolate; I almost caved knowing myself I’ll probably revisit to buy them). Eventually we somehow managed to find ourselves in a macaroon dessert shop and I think my friend finally gave into her cravings and bought some macaroons for herself (I slightly regret not following suit).
We walked (much to our feet’s dismay) till we had our fill of the area and from there parted ways; I made my way back to campus while my friend decided to travel elsewhere for a much needed dinner.
My commute home was far from pleasant; after walking in the heat all day all I wanted to do was get home and cool off but the Tube had other plans for me. The trains were packed and hotter than ever. The close proximity of the people and the lack of AC inside the Tube should have been considered a form of torture; when I transferred to the bus that takes me directly to campus the comfort level was no better.
Recently, I’ve been slightly more homesick than ever. During the class trip , I discovered that some of my fellow classmates had feelings similar to my own. I’m not homesick in the sense that I’m crying and aching to go home, but more in the sense that I miss the familiarity that comes with being amongst the people and things I love. I’ve found myself missing my mother’s home-cooked meals that, even If I tried to recreate here, wouldn’t taste the same. I miss being greeted everyday by the rambunctious toddler that is my niece, who always manages to show me how loved I am whenever I doubt it. I miss my bed and the soft turquoise sheets that I love to wrap myself in at the end of each day. My time here has been nothing short of amazing and our class excursion has, in a way, rejuvenated me and resurfaced my adventurous self. Despite my slight homesickness I’m so excited to for the rest of my time here and for what this city has in store for me, the next few weeks will be plentiful. Perhaps the homesickness is a sign that I’ll be ready to leave when the time comes, instead of feeling like being ripped apart from London it’ll feel more like i’m graciously letting go.
*And on an end side-note: I’ve got a couple of other things in the works, aside from being more active in London, and I’m very excited to put those into motion. I’m purposely choosing not to reveal too much information on this but stay tuned to learn more and wish me luck!