Our week in Germany was a great way to end my month abroad. For one, it distracted me from being sad about leaving London. My husband, Ben, and I were able to see some good friends and I was able to use my greatly deteriorated knowledge of the German language. On the other hand, it was incredibly mentally exhausting. I was already bodily tired from three weeks of intense dedication to spending every waking moment taking advantage of London, but the energy exerted trying to understand a language I only spent three semesters learning over three years ago was the cherry on top of a sad and sleepy sundae.
Now we’ve been home for just over a month and, fully recovered and well-rested, I decided to look back on the goals I had set for myself in my first ever From I to U post. Here they are below (condensed a bit) with the results:
- Navigation/embrace walking and exploring every facet of the city possible: I have to be honest and say that I definitely rocked London. I feel so good about everything I did and have no regrets about how I spent my time. I wasn’t daunted by my previous experience with street signs and, with my handy map by my side, navigated the city like a pro. I even expanded my public transportation knowledge by utilizing the buses when taking the Tube wasn’t necessary.
- Being realistic about my budget without letting it stress me out and get in the way of enjoying my time: I was very pleased with how little I let money stress me out while overseas. I didn’t adhere as strictly as I’d planned to the budget I had set but I was able to see shows at a discounted or student rate and I chose to get groceries over eating out for all but a few meals.
- Actually sending post cards rather than buying a huge stack that ends up getting packed away in my closet when I return: I completely failed at this and am currently working through the pile of postcards I acquired. Better late than never, right?
- Living in the moment/immersing myself in the culture: As mentioned above, I am very pleased with how I spent my time in London. There was a great mix of doing things in the city as well as in the surrounding Burroughs and towns. I saw most of the museums, attractions, and shows I hadn’t seen before; gathered great research for a show I’m designing at IU in the spring; and ate some fantastic food, both at restaurants and from the grocery store (I swear that food from the grocer is better than ours here: less preservatives I think).
- Observing people, social customs, etc.: See my second From I to U post: It’s My Job, which discusses my thoughts and observations about Londoners. In short, though: I loved people watching!
- Taking pictures of things that inspire me: Oh the pictures I took! I got the greatest enjoyment in trying to take covert pictures of interesting people and fashions on the street.
- Journaling and drawing everyday: I got a little overwhelmed with how many things I tried to keep updated but I feel successful in my journal-keeping and drawing skillz. I didn’t draw every day as I’d planned but I did take time in museums drawing things that inspired me and that I could use for future costume design research.
- Paying special attention to costumes from the 18th century at the various costume collections we’ll be attending: Definitely achieved! I have loads of research and resources about 18th century England.
- See as much theatre as I possibly can: With the group and on my own, I saw a total of eleven shows (four with the group, seven on my own). I do wish I had seen more shows, but I really felt it was just as important to immerse myself in the people and culture of London and gather research about 18th century British society and culture. With that in mind, as I said above, I have no regrets about how I spent my time. Though, I will definitely miss the accessibility of London’s theatre more than anything else.
When I got home I had some serious London withdrawal. Luckily, Bloomington is awesome and seeing all the inexpensive and free things this town has to offer helped me move on in a big way. I feel inspired to get as much out of my time here as I did while I was in London but with two years rather than three weeks. There is also something very European about Bloomington that helps ease the withdrawal. I think it’s the limestone architecture, excellent ethnic food, and smokers. I had an unforgettable trip and greatly look forward to all the adventures Bloomington has to offer.