London, England

Arriving in London at 7am after an eleven hour flight left forty students and four adults beyond exhausted yet there’s a full day ahead of us.

After quickly changing at the airport into clothing much cleaner and comfortable, we go straight to London and pass an upside down purple cow on our way to lunch. Walking the streets of London, it doesn’t feel realistic even though we’re standing thirty feet away from the 300ft London Eye. Our lunch is first served with an appetizer, tomato and creamy mozzarella cheese with a brown sauce drizzled on the top. As nearly every student tried a bite, it didn’t appeal to any of us and I ended up spitting the cheese into a napkin – way to make first impressions.

However, the first-seemed peculiar main dish, salmon pasta, turns out to be delicious. With every obscure course we encountered, we slowly discovered what we did and didn’t like which allowed us to gradually expose ourselves to the new culture we need to adapt ourselves into for the next three weeks.

As the very few and quick two days tick on the Big Ben, we’re rushing around the capital cramming all that we can into our limited time. In lingering queues, we finally get to the end and board the London Eye, capturing the beauty of the entire city from the top, also crossing off number twelve on my bucket list: ride the London Eye. Taking a short boat ride along the river where the Coca-Cola masterpiece lays, the end of the stream leaves us off with the awe-struck, breath-taking Big Ben. I’m gazing at the astonishing clock, imagining Peter Pan flying above the clock and landing on the minute hand. It feels all too real.

I’m in line for the London Eye, about to board, and I’m looking around to the crowd of people gathered around street performers and others trying to get from one destination to another attempting to wind through the blockaded walls of other people. Their “heat wave” with 75 degrees humors my friends and I as we’re watching the locals in tank tops, shorts, and in line for ice cream attempting to “cool down.” To us, this is our winter.

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Handing the worker in front of the entrance my ticket, he checks my bag for guns because I, of course, would definitely want to murder all these lovely, hot British boys around me. My friend behind me gets her bag scanned as well; however, his detector begins to beep and claims he found something. He yells our for another worker, eager to take her in, and the other worker glares at my friend. My friend’s stunned, pale white, frightened, until the first worker laughs letting my friend know he was messing around. Offended, she responds, “I don’t understand jokes.” I, at least, thought it was hilarious. The British have a grand sense of humor.

We later visit the Tower of London and venture to its famous Royal Gems which was valued more than my life. It was fascinating seeing how valuable and treasured such material items can be just because of its antique characteristic and the fact that an important human has touched it.

The vast London Bridge also left me in awe as I rode a ferry directly underneath it and sat in a bus that crossed on the bridge as well. Wishing people were capable of walking the top of the bridge, I imagined myself standing at the ledge, half an inch away from falling, but feeling the rush of adrenaline as the cool breeze kiss my cheeks and hugs my waist. I wanted to feel free up there, viewing the city in a full 360. The world is beautiful.

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With an impacted schedule (which the British apparently pronounce “shh – eh – duale”) and being completely exhausted by traveling for an entire day, we did much more than our bodies can nearly handle. Walking the Tower of London, visiting Big Ben, riding the London Eye, attending a play, walking on Abbey Street, watching the change of guards, viewing Buckingham Palace from a distance since there were guards everywhere, and visiting nearly every major Harry Potter destination in London. I’m beyond exhausted, but within this trip, I have another sixteen days to go.

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