Week Fifteen in London

GASP. Week Fifteen. No, it can’t be. But alas, my last week in London lies ahead and another has passed me by with surprising haste.

This past Wednesday, we headed to the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park for another ice-skating extravaganza. Time spent on the ice with native Londoners and a few of America’s finest is surely a supreme way to spend an evening no matter how you look at it. However, the Winter Wonderland exceeded my expectations and I was fantastically overwhelmed with Christmas cheer. From carnival-style games to Cadbury hot chocolate with rum, there wasn’t room for a single complaint.

On Friday afternoon, we ventured to a lovely area near the Tower Bridge for tea at Teapod. After a blustery walk across the trustee and gorgeous landmark, we walked down cobbled streets and sat down for a warm cup of tea and some porridge (two of my favorite things).

On Saturday, we were up early enough to beat the Richmond student rush to Starbucks and be among the first on the bus to Cambridge. This trip was planned though AIFS and a solid majority of students in the study abroad program came along. Now, if you could venture back to those archives of your memory and recall my Week Two in London post where I told you all about the wonderful trip to Bath and Stonehenge, I would like to share a few parallels between these two trips. The Bath/Stonehenge trip and the Cambridge trip followed nearly the same pattern in that they were free trips though the school and most students snagged the opportunity to hop on for the ride and accept whatever the day might bring. On the other hand, one was at the very beginning of our program here in London and the other now, at the end.

Settled comfortably into my seat on the bus, surrounded by the same wonderful individuals as the last trip, it was so strange to think of how much time has passed, how much we have grown and changed, but also how much things stay the same. London remains the same bustling city and home is still thousands of miles away. There is no denying that the experiences we have shared and the personal evolutions that we have undergone (with a little help from our friends) during our time in London have been wonderful. It’s hard for me to say whether I liked Bath/Stonehenge or Cambridge better. I think it is a tie. They both have their own endearing qualities and personalities that bring a flood of memories that will last me a lifetime.

In Cambridge, we first took a walking tour to learn a little about the rich heritage of education and the city itself. After some souveniring, we set off to find a dashing lad to take us punting down that River Cam, which flows through the backs of the various colleges in Cambridge including King’s College. Our boat was maneuvered down the river by a punter who shared his knowledge of Cambridge with us along the way. I was very impressed by his ability to push not only seven of us girls, but the six other people (who hailed from London and Greece) with us in the boat UPSTREAM with nothing but a long stick. He was a professional, and also one of the best American-accent imitators I have ever encountered. He could even do a nice southern and Boston inflection.

This punting experience was my favorite part of the Cambridge visit. Despite the recent onset of chilly weather in the area, we cold not have asked for a better day as the sun was shining brightly. It was so relaxing to snuggle up with friends who have become my family here, enjoy the peaceful flow of the river, and learn about the interesting history of the colleges we passed by.

In other news, we lived it up London-style this weekend one last time with minimal mental breakdowns regarding the fact that goodbyes are just around the corner. I even managed to get the majority of my things packed away – only the essentials for the next two weeks remain in my closet. It was a good thing that Meg and I did it at the same time because I am positive there would have been tears if I faced the task alone.

You might notice that this post is arriving in your feed much earlier in the day this time. This week’s finals have driven me to actually get this blogging business done before 2:00AM. The last post is a good place to start right? I am attempting to keep my stress levels low and sleep levels high in this last eventful week with my London friends.

This coming Saturday everyone will depart, leaving me for a lonely soul in London. Sadness won’t make much headway in deflating my mood – BRYAN ARRIVES ON SUNDAY. Words can’t describe how excited I am to see him, so there is no use trying. We have a wonderful week planned and a long flight home, just in time for Christmas. Please pray for safe travels for the both of us and all those traveling.

Well, that’s all, folks. I may or may not be shedding a tear over here. A week from now, Bryan will be here and there will be no time for blogging; a week after that I will be baking Christmas cookies back in Omaha and still there will be no time for blogging. However, I am hoping to post a little culminating abroad experience memo – just for closure’s sake in the (hopefully) near future.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you who have taken the time to check up on me every week. I do hope that you enjoyed laughing with me/at me and managed to share in this wonderful opportunity that I have been given as I relayed the past fifteen weeks through cyberspace. I can’t wait to catch up on life back home in person. Joy to you and yours this holiday season and in the upcoming New Year!

xoxo,
Sarah

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