Olivia Henry, an English major junior, has always wanted to go to England, and this summer her dream was fulfilled during a Campbell Study Abroad trip. Olivia counted down the days until her departure, and after she came home, she started counting down the days until she could return. It was certainly an experience of a lifetime as she describes below:
Olivia’s Dream Come True:
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to visit London, England. I grew up listening to the Beatles and googling pictures of Big Ben every chance I got. I would speak in a fake British accent, which is now pretty good I might add, and pretend I was a Londoner rushing through the city. I never thought it was possible that I would finally be able to leave North Carolina, to leave the United States entirely, and go to that place I’ve always dreamed of. It just so happened that one of Campbell’s Study Abroad Programs for the summer was a month long trip to the UK. I talked to my parents, I prayed a lot, and I filled out an application. I knew it was meant to be.
I still remember stepping off of the plane at London-Heathrow airport. My entire group was exhausted—we had not slept at all on the flight over and because of the time change, it was seven in the morning London time. We had a full day ahead of us, but we didn’t care at all. I remember walking down these old cobblestone streets and being surrounded by people and noises and the tallest building imaginable, and I was so overwhelmed, but it was the best feeling I’ve ever had. I was walking down roads that millions and millions of people had walked down before me, and the history took my breath away. While London was the place I had always wanted to visit most, our group was able to travel by train to many different cities throughout the UK. Some were in the countryside, like Ambleside in the Lake District, while others were huge cities, like Edinburgh in Scotland. It didn’t matter what part of the country I was in though because each place we visited was unique and full of excitement.
After almost two weeks of jumping from city to city, and visiting the homes of dozens of British authors, our group returned to London for a ten day stay in apartments. This was by far my favorite part of the trip. This was my first time in this city, and I didn’t know a soul besides the people in my group, but I felt like I belonged. I was in love with the culture and the accents and the sights, and I didn’t want to even think about my trip ever coming to an end.
The moment I keep going back to in my mind was the time I spent with Big Ben. My first sighting of him seemed like a dream state at the time. It was my first day in London, right after leaving the airport, and when my group exited the tube we came face to face with the base of the immense clock tower. I gazed up in awe and my heart was beating so fast in my chest. I couldn’t stop smiling, and I know I looked like the biggest tourist in the world, but this moment made me finally realize that I was here! I was living my dream! I returned to this spot a few more times during our ten day stay in the city, and each time only increased my amazement and my love for London.
Coming back to the States was bittersweet. I was ecstatic that I would finally see my family, but it almost felt wrong coming back, especially since I felt so at home in UK. My first night back home ended in tears, and my shocked family couldn’t believe it when I kept saying, “I just want to go back.” I cherish my memories and my time there, but sometimes I wake up in the morning and it just hits me that I was really in London and it wasn’t just a dream. I look back at pictures and I know exactly where it was taken and it just pulls at my heart because I miss it. I learned so much about myself while I was traveling through the UK. I did things I never thought I would do and I really embraced the new atmosphere I was surrounded by. I can’t explain how much my time there meant to me, but I can say it was the best time of my life and I’m counting down the days until I can return.