I grew up sheltered in my small, suburban town, where everybody knows everybody--and then some. From the time I was born until I was eighteen, my life took place in a five-mile radius, with the occasional two-hour trip to the Jersey Shore in the summer.
When it came time to head off to college, I was ripped away from my sheltered hometown and entered a new world. This world soon became like a second home, extending my five-mile life a little farther. For two years, my life consisted of two homes and I was extremely happy, content, and comfortable. I had friends and family waiting for me back at my hometown and new sets of friends to welcome me back to my second home.
My future plans were to finish school with an English-Education degree, then head back home and *hopefully* teach in my alma mater--my old high school. I planned to leave my second home behind and dive right back into my sheltered, five-mile radius life; move back home, teach in town, know everybody, and then some.
And then I went abroad.
I’ve dreamt about London from the time I started to remember my dreams. London became a type of fantasy for me and inspired things I did in my so-far confined life: the music I listened to, the movies I watched. This obsession went as far as to inspire a theme for my “Sweet 16” party.
It wasn’t until my second year in my second home that the idea of once again widening my life’s radius became a serious thought. I attended many meetings, filled out too many forms, researched more than I did for all my classes combined, and, with the help of my mom, of course, I was soon waking up in London.
My “dream London” was nothing like the London I experienced. I was expecting a glamorous Big Ben, a huge London Eye, authentic pubs, eclectic coffee shops, cobblestone streets, and cute and quirky accents. Within the first few days, I realized that I would not be getting what I dreamt of. London did not even come close to meeting my expectations.
It exceeded them.
Being at the foot of Big Ben was one of the most surreal moments I have ever experienced, that even writing about it my breath is taken away. Seeing the London Eye light up the London nighttime sky is an image that I can only see again in my dreams as pictures will never do it justice. Pubs on every corner, just down the street, the coffee shops.
London gave me a new area to call home every five miles, and no area was the same as the last. London was full of surprises that truly opened up my previously small world. Down every street, in every shop, park, bar, club, bookstore was a new experience waiting for me, and I soaked up every single one.
My world has been changed. I will never be content living a five-mile life. London has not only broadened my horizons as to what the world has to offer but won’t let them stop broadening. London showed me that I truly want more out of life than my original plans called for, striking up a hunger in me to continually find new experiences, to grow, to learn, to find new places to call home for awhile.
So thank you, London, for turning my life upside down, for forcing me to demand more out of life, to force me to never cease exploring for adventures, for opening up my eyes, thoughts, mind, and heart to an entire new (and improved) way of living my life.