Friday, July 27, 2012

england calling

Written a week ago...

Foxgloves and the warm English sunshine...

It’s been five years since I was last in England and sixteen years since I landed in the British Isles, a fresh-faced twenty year-old university student, for a yearlong study abroad program.

Even as a freshman at UC Berkeley, I knew that studying abroad would be a crucial element to my education. I felt the call. At first, I had my eyes set on Spain. I was taking Spanish. But my interest in English Literature, which became my major, took precedent. I dropped Spanish by the second semester of my sophomore year and Spain turned into the University of Warwick in the UK, with its progressive creative writing program and its campus located a quick train ride from Stratford-Upon-Avon. I wanted to be in the land of Shakespeare. In truth, I loved all things English, excepting the dull gray weather, which eventually inspired me to seek out the tropical sunshine of the Philippines.

Still, as a whole, my time in England was formative. I learned a lot that year, more from the experience of going to a foreign country than in the classroom, which was also good. But it’s when we take ourselves out of our comfort zones and venture into new things that we make new discoveries.  

Only hours from landing, I am filled with the excitement of meeting an old friend. I can’t wait to see the green of the English countryside, so different from the lushness of the tropics or the expansiveness of North America. I look forward to meeting with new friends and old friends and to partake in a way of life, which I found so charming my first trip to the country. I am thrilled to explore a part of England that I’ve never previously ventured before.

Every time I return to the UK it always brings the opportunity to check in with myself. When I came to study, I was a blank page. I’d barely lived. And that year felt like the start of me. On my own, in a foreign country, I started to discover how certain things really resonated. Watching theater. Traveling. Dancing. Alternative music.

And since then, every return is a gauge of how much I have grown. I continue to be a work in progress. Now, I’m several drafts-old, an ever-thickening, ever-evolving manuscript. I wonder how England will develop into this new chapter of the story of me?

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