The Union Jack flows within the curves of the wind outside of Windsor Castle during a day trip Jan. 28. The trip was originally scheduled for orientation but got moved as the program gave people time to arrive. Photo by Beth Gonzales
The alarm goes off like any other day, but when I wake up, I am in London. This is a place I have dreamed about since I was a little girl and it was one of the deciding factors on choosing Pepperdine as my university.
The incredible thing is, even as I write “A Day in the Life,” no day is the same once abroad. Every single day is filled with small joys, such as pastries with friends, laughter at a play for English or something as big as looking at Tower Bridge under the stars or planning a trip out of the country. This city is immersive in every sense of the word and I have learned more in my month’s stay than in any classroom I have ever sat in.
Generally, I have school on the weekdays, minus Friday, with mini excursions and trips on the weekend. I attend plays and horseback riding Tuesday nights, group dinners and I help lead worship for house meetings.
Upon waking up on the weekend, I get ready and grab a late breakfast at La Pain Quotidien with my friends in the adorable surrounding area of South Kensington with small shops, cafes and walk-up stores.
I usually order avocado toast with poached egg and smoked salmon — on occasion I will order tea that comes in dainty floral teapots. Every day I have been accomplishing a goal and immersing myself in everything the culture has to offer.
Then depending on the day, it is time for a day trip. On this day, we took the train to Brighton, a city along the coast, and look out the window while I listen to One Direction and become emotional, taking in where I really am.
We walk the beach and pier, gaze at the cute dogs in sweaters and I get to know all my new friends better. I thrifted a dress at a small ’70s clothing store and had the longest conversation with the store owner — I find the best recommendations come from locals.
Once we head home it’s time to do research for the next out-of-country trip such as Edinburgh, Scotland and Rome, Italy for spring break. I visited Scotland within my first few weeks. The gothic architecture and stories hidden within the cobblestone are some of the most breathtaking I have ever seen.
As my friends and I close our laptops after booking tickets, we head to group dinner at Byron’s where I order a vegetarian burger and the famous massive milkshakes.
Group dinners are a time to talk about your day with the whole program and catch up with your professors while getting to know them personally. Upon coming home, a friend brings me a cupcake from a local bakery, Molly Rose, for my birthday a few days prior.
This year became one of my most special birthdays. I went shopping in Covent Garden with my roommate, where we found a giant Glossier and we went to the movies later at night. When I came home, everyone surprised me in the kitchen with baked goods and a mini dance party.
Back to the current day, after I say thank you for my cupcake, I do some homework which usually consists of reading. Then I head to the kitchen to fill my water bottle and I get caught up in playing games with the group such as telephone and psychiatrist. I feel fulfilled spending time with such a wonderful family and I head to bed with a smile on my face, ready for another day.
It is now, Tuesday. We are sitting in our weekly house meeting where our program director, Heather Pardee usually makes announcements and is ready to reveal our Educational Field Trip for March. Everyone is on the edge of their seat and it is the happiest I have ever seen the directors. Pardee announces that it is Greece. Everyone rushes up, hugs and screams; this place feels like home.
Nothing could have prepared me for the experience I have had, and I still have a few months to go.
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Email Beth Gonzales: firstname.lastname@example.org