This past week was a whirlwind as midterms approached ever so quickly and along with it the mid-term travel break our whole program has anticipated and planned for the whole time. First, wow, now we have approached the half way mark of our study abroad experience in London which is an achievement in itself but also terribly depressing. Second, this week I felt pushed beyond compare. Not only was I completing mid-term exams and papers, many due all on the same day, but I was balancing a life of living in a foreign country and a demanding internship along with it. Lets just say surviving and thriving on very little sleep is a skill to be learned and cherished. A bright light in these past couple of weeks was this past weekend, which while extremely enjoyable did not help my sleep reservoir. This past weekend I experienced so much emotion, history, and joy where I attempted to take the time to be still and to enjoy it to the fullest. So, here is my weekend.
Fridays are long. Fridays are especially stressful and fast paced at my work and chances are than not that a crisis will happen with a client and we will respond as best we can before the weekend. There is also comradery in the office like I’ve never felt before. There is support, community and humor and I am a part of it, which is something I’ve never been included in as an intern, and I love it. That night I partook in a classic London ritual: flee the office and gather into the time-old stomping ground of the pub. My friends and I gathered in our local favorite pub near our student accommodation to exchange work stories and future travel plans like the many millions of London commuters do, and we felt apart of this community—a part of this revelry.
Bright and early Saturday morning my student program CAPA organized optional day trips with three options for students to choose from. I chose the Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford option, which I did, not knowing my plans for the next day yet… Stratford-upon-Avon was incredible for a history nerd like me. It was powerful to me to see the place where William Shakespeare was baptized and buried, see his and his family’s grave stone—including the cursed inscription upon it in order that no one would dig up his bones. I also enjoyed seeing his childhood home and the room where he was born. I am one that is touched by history like this, touched to see people transcend time and reach out to us today. Oxford was also truly incredible. Such history and so many people having attended there. I enjoyed Christ Church and the Harry Potter filming sights and inspirations (more to follow on this), and the other historical indicators of famous attendees like Steven Hawking, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
What. A. Day. This day was an emotional roller coaster and have no fear I’ll tell you why. I grew up a Harry Potter fan in a family of Harry Potter fans. I know you’ve heard the stories of the crazy die hard fans, let me tell you, I’m one of them. Harry Potter was my childhood and it was and is invaluable to me. My mom used to read it to all of us before I could read it myself, we used to attend the midnight book openings and then the midnight movie showings. I remember getting the last few books, especially when the seventh one came out and clutching it like it was my dearest possession. When I think of my family, whole and happy, and think of my childhood at its happiest I think of Harry Potter. This is what it means to me. Yes, we have multiple wands, including the TV remote control one. Yes, I’ve taken all the quizzes and I am undoubtedly a Ravenclaw, my brother a Slytherin (don’t judge). I know all the trivia, all the weird facts—trust me, that’s how much it means to me. Now, let me begin.
On Sunday, I attended the Harry Potter Warner Bros tour + Oxford Harry Potter sights tour and it was probably one of the greatest days of my life (except for the end—you’ll see). I went back to Oxford, repeated many of the sights but saw so much more. Saw where the Hogwarts Hospital Wing was filmed, ended up eating at the Eagle and Child Pub where the Inklings gathered, which was a club that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, where they discussed their ideas which became Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia—another true nerd moment. I walked through Oxford University, which truly feels as close a university can feel to Hogwarts, and then we embarked for the Warner Bros warehouse. Arriving is kind of a blur because honestly I was that excited, and thankfully I was with friends who shared in my enthusiasms. I walked the long halls to get to the warehouse which displayed quotes and played music which already pricked tears to my eyes because I felt as though I was taking a time travel tunnel back into my childhood, and then I was in the warehouse. It was huge, it was magnificent, and it was everything I could have dreamed. It had so many sets where literal magic was created, costumes that my heroes wore, and props and animatronics that created the magical world. One of the most emotional moments for me was on the Hogwarts Express platform, walking on the train, the real one they used for the movies, and then seeing a set up scene with the costumes from the first movie from the first scene where the three protagonists—Harry, Ron, and Hermione first meet and then turning and the last scene of the last movie is set up with the three’s costumes as aged adults. The music was playing and I was an emotional wreck.
Harry Potter represented so much to me. The books represented the first real books/series that I obsessed and created in my mind. I would later grow into a book nerd, a history major and now about to attend law school—the ultimate reader. The books provided a great escape into a magical world that existed for me and an entire generation of millenials who are now in their twenties and thirties and still cherish it today. The movies provided a near-perfect visual representation of those books and provided heroes to worship and a concrete way to imagine it. It truly was a wonderful day. Well, except for when my tour group left me and my friends stranded at said warehouse even though we were on time, we had to find a way home and then during that journey late at night I had the bright idea to fall down some stairs quite publicly at a tube station. But you know, still a great day.