PKP student Collin Palmer reflects on his first week in the UK:
My first day abroad was everything that I could have hoped for, imagined, or expected. Truly, I experienced the whole spectrum of emotions and experiences as I made my way from St. Louis to London on my 14-hour trip – excited, a little nervous, and a little anxious about what lay ahead, but full of anticipation of what was to come.
Descending into London Heathrow, the pilot banked right and gave the whole left side of the plane a full-on view of downtown London, with the tall buildings, the River Thames snaking through the almost-flat landscape like a piece of blue icing on a cookie cake, and distant images of the London Eye and London Bridge peeping up as I peered through the glare of the airplane window.
Anyway, after getting the tube to King’s Cross station, catching the next train up to Cambridge, and arriving in Cambridge tired and sore from sitting, I managed to hail a cab to my accommodation: a rowhouse about a 10-minute walk from the main university area, but also a three minute walk to the Cambridge University Botanical Garden – founded by Charles Darwin’s mentor – and a one minute walk to a couple of legitimate British pubs.
It is hard to describe in words how beautiful some of the architecture and settings are here. Even something as simple as a winding cobblestone alley weaving through ancient buildings, churches, and structures seemed admirable and picture-worthy. Cambridge the city is basically Cambridge the University, which is basically a whole bunch of colleges situated right next to each other with parks, streets, alleyways, plazas, markets, quaysides (exactly – my first quayside), restaurants, pubs, and shops mixed in.
I actually have to take classes while I’m abroad, but at a place like Cambridge it’s a pleasure to learn at one of the best universities in the world. So far I’ve only had one class called Behavioural Economics, but I can already tell that it is going to be the type of class that you just enjoy without worrying about the grade, which is ideally how every class should be. My professor seems very passionate and knowledgeable about the subject.
My time abroad, as short as it’s been so far, has already proved to be meaningful, productive, and worthwhile. I’m sure it’ll continue to be those and more as I continue on my journey. It seems like the more time I spend here, the more I get out of the experience. Every day I notice something new: a beautiful aspect of architecture, a new path, a different shop, or a different direction. I think I’m noticing these things because I’m not a tourist (well, I guess technically I am a long-term tourist); instead, I’m a local, and as I get to know the town more and more, I appreciate it more and more.
Through my first week abroad, I’ve experienced so much. I know I’ve learned so many things and grown in more ways than I can count, whether I am aware of them or not. Cheers to the next seven weeks!