An American Girl in London

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Emily Chudzik

Although it seems much longer, I have just entered my third week of living in the great city of London. Time feels quite different here. Maybe it’s because life in the city is so hustle and bustle. I’m constantly on the move, almost never taking the time to just lounge around in my room like I would at Millikin. Everything is still fresh and exciting, and I want to experience all of it.

Instead of binge watching another TV series on Netflix on the weekends, I’m taking trips to different boroughs, museums, and historical sites. I’ve seen famous London landmarks, such as Big Ben and the houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and Tower Bridge, among others. I was psyched to get to see some of the most incredible buildings and locations in the city. I had no idea things were going to get even better.

As a class, we have gone on three other trips to places outside of London: Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, and Stonehenge. Stratford is a quaint little town about two hours north of London that sits on the River Avon. It is the birthplace of William Shakespeare, which, as an English Writing major, was profoundly exciting. For a small fee, we were able to walk through the house he lived in for most of his life. There were a few staff members inside to give a bit of information on each room and answer any questions. We also went to Trinity Church, the church that Shakespeare attended during his life. It was absolutely magnificent. The town itself was really lovely. It was so full of history, and it was very well preserved. I felt like I had stepped back in time as I walked down the streets. It was quite an experience getting to see where Shakespeare grew up.

The second trip we took was to the city of Bath, about two and a half hours west of London. The city was breathtakingly beautiful. Jane Austen, another profound British writer, had lived there for some of her life. I was awestruck when I got to stand in the ballroom she was thought to have danced in. Aside from Jane Austen, Bath is also famous for the ancient Roman baths that were built there hundreds of years ago. The baths were a few levels below the present day street, so if you stood at the bath level and looked up, you would see all the buildings that came after. It was fascinating to see the Bath Abbey, a medieval church, just a few feet above the even older baths. There was a museum with tons of information about what the Romans were doing in England and what they used the baths for. The juxtaposition of different historical sites from such different time periods in one city was something truly unique.

Finally, our most recent class trip was to Stonehenge. It was only an hour and forty-five minutes southwest of London. As we were driving along the road to get to the visitor center, we actually passed the structure. It was strange to see such well-known site from the street. As we passed it, it didn’t seem so spectacular. However, once we arrived at the visitor center and took the shuttle bus to the location, the true weight of what it was hit. I’m not sure what I was expecting to see, but any preconceived thoughts I had were wiped away when I walked up the path to the massive stones. It was obvious that the formation was important; however, it is not clear as to why it was important or what it was used for. It’s one of those great mysteries of mankind we’ll probably never figure out, and I kind of liked it like that. Maybe it didn’t even have a true purpose, or maybe it meant something different to each person. Regardless, it’s mostly speculation, and it’s the mystery that makes the stones so alluring. Being able to see such an ancient and famous piece of history was unbelievable.

I am so thankful for the opportunities this trip has granted me. Being able to visit such historically rich and important places inside as well as outside of London has been a true gift. While London certainly holds a great deal of significance in history, there are other cities important to the UK. Next week, we are traveling to Canterbury and Dover. I can’t wait!