It is not a secret that my semester in London is coming to a conclusion. I have under 3 weeks left and my heart somberly murmurs for an extension. But new chapters cannot start unless the previous one is concluded. Before leaving, past study abroad participants will tell you that you won’t return home as the same person. In a sense, they are right. My time in London has helped me build up new social skills and fill my mental toolbox with new (another word for tools) for navigating the world and people around me.
I am not the same as I was in September, or March, or even May when we arrived here. Though I may make mistakes, I am always growing and learning. This semester has instilled within me a new mindset of confidence, hope, and faith. If I was able to study abroad in London, after over a year of contemplating its plausibility, then I am capable enough to set my mind to a goal and achieve it. The things I wrote about in my scholarship essays came to fruition. I did go to the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival and Kew Gardens. I did learn about the importance of the floral industry and I did meet lots of individuals from the industry. I did learn about how necessary respect for other cultures is and the vitality of patience. Without my time in London, the lessons I was taught in the past would not have this international context nor would they have been instilled within my heart in such a way.
What does it felt like to visit one of the seven wonders of the world from when you were a child? Magical? Enchanting? Inspiring? Breathtaking. Without a thought, I had purchased a day trip ticket all the way in May to visit Stonehenge and Bath after deciding that I wanted to visit Windsor Castle on its own. (Many day trip packages came as a combination of all three locations.) It is always a delight when the British weather is not forecast to be rainy or cold, so no doubt I was elated to see the sun out when I visited Stonehenge.
The wind tousled my hair, pushing it out of my face so that I could see this world treasure for myself. I remember it being the family computer’s background as a child. A place I wondered of it really even existed. But there I was staring at those stones. No matter what angle I stared at it from, it would always be mesmerizing. I couldn’t help but whisper a prayer of gratitude, that I of all people could be there in that moment sharing that experience with hundreds of others, yet it is my own unique experience at the same time. When the sun would peak out from behind the thick cotton candy clouds, carefully lighting up the arrangement like the dramatic unveiling in a movie, I would do nothing but gasp.
Just when I thought I could avoid the blistering heat of summer, London got hit with a heatwave, this time beating the heat I battled in Paris. But this time I was equipped with my handy dandy handheld fan! Though this heatwave was arguably worst because of the lack of the breeze, I was able to manage because I had already traveled throughout London many times prior. But on this hottest day of the year, I got to visit a place so notorious that not even the heat could melt away the joy of this once in a lifetime experience. I got to visit one of six+ the Google offices in London because of my internship (my supervisor/CEO is flatmates with an employee in one of the most lucrative divisions.)
The Google office wasn’t as boastful and grand as I expected but it definitely showed me how important it is to maintain your entire well-being even at work. Just like in those videos that I was shown in my Principles of Management class, Google does have those snack drawers, meditation rooms, gyms, quiet spaces, sky gardens and so much more. When I start my business, I want to value my coworkers and allow them some of the comforts that Google provides. Overall, it was a breath of fresh air to see that even in the tech industry, the era of the stuffy, stifling, uncomfortable and stressful office buildings with limited personal flexibility is gone. Though I may not want to work in the tech industry, it has taught me a lot about being a business owner.