This is where I belong

Written by Ellen Simmons

I don’t even know where to begin describing my first month in Reading, though I suppose the word incredible could suffice. For as long as I, and anyone I know, can remember, I’ve wanted to visit, and or move, to England. Something about this country has always interested and intrigued me, and I can firmly say that it’s lived up to, and even exceeded, the expectations I’ve had. My flight over was seamless, and my arrival to the University from the airport went without a hiccup. As a study abroad student, it was required for me to arrive a few days before the term started for orientation, which allowed me time to discover the university without a mass of people, which was also nice. The team tasked with looking after the study abroad and Erasmus students couldn’t be better, and I sincerely thank them for helping me transition from life in Louisiana and Mississippi to England as easy as possible. 

Now, as someone who has always wanted to visit England, London was clearly on my to-do list of places I need to visit, and in fact, since I’ve been here, I’ve been to London around four or five times, which to a native Brit may seem like nothing, but for me the only way I can describe it is awesome in its most basic definition. Here I am, 30 minutes from one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world, and I can visit it anytime I want to! 

Not only have I been to London, but I’ve visited Warwick as well, where I got to experience what it’s like to walk on the grounds of a fortress that’s been there for over 1,000 years. It was whenever I climbed to the top of the tower, and looked down over the hillsides and saw the small town that I realized I was standing on one of the most important historical landmarks in British history, and the moment took my breath away. There I was, a girl from a small town in Louisiana, standing on the same land that William the Conqueror had once walked, surrounded by bricks that had been in place since the 14th century. I was fully immersed in the history of the landmark. Part of me had a gut wrenching feeling, however, that I wouldn’t be able to feel anything like that again, I mean, how does it get any better than Warwick Castle? The answer: The Tower of London. 

The Tower of London was… mesmerizing. Not necessarily in its looks as it’s simply a stone fortress, but in the amount of royal history that surrounds and is encapsulated within its walls. I got to see the Crown Jewels in person, and then walk next to the exact spot where two unfortunate wives of the infamous Henry VIII lost their lives, and their heads. I got to see the ravens up close as I climbed the stairs to gape at the magnificent view of Tower Bridge, another British landmark I only ever imagined about seeing. It’s moments like this, when I’m surrounded by the splendors of Britain, that it hits me- I’m in England. Then I have to take a few moments to gather myself because I’m overcome with emotions; joy with a pinch of sadness.

I left my family in the United States to come to the U.K., and at times I’m a little overwhelmed with how much I miss them, but then I remember that they’re living vicariously through me, and I try not to dwell on my downcast thoughts. Instead, I think of all the great things that have happened to me, like the friends that I’ve made, from all over the U.K., and even other parts of the world! I remember that even though I’m five thousand miles away from home, I’m in the place I’ve wanted to visit for years, and the knowledge and experiences I’m gaining here are shaping me into a newer, better version of myself, and I’m not so sad anymore. I’ve only been here a month, but I feel as if this is where I belong.

Incoming Student London United States

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