As a young man, Mark Twain partook in a cruise around Europe to the Holy Land. He turned his experiences and observations of his fellow travelers into the still-popular travel novel The Innocents Abroad. As Twain came to realize, “One must travel, to learn,” and I couldn’t agree more. Anyone traveling or living abroad should take a look at this book. I read it last summer in preparation for my time in London, and it has helped me see my experiences here in a different light. I’ve come to understand things not only about the world around me, but about myself too.
I’ve learned a lot here in London: how to take advantage of every day, how to make the most of every experience, even the mundane ones like going to Tesco, how to make a proper cup of tea, that football is a noble and exciting sport, and the British chocolate is much better than that American stuff. I’ve also learned that people around the world are all so similar; they all quarrel over trivial things, get silly with their families, like to laugh with friends over a pint at the end of the day. No matter how different our cultures may be, we all have so much in common.
I arrived in London in January as an innocent abroad. I had no knowledge of my surroundings or anything, really. It seemed a bit daunting at first, but I soon came to appreciate this unfamiliar environment. What better way to to gain a better understanding of the world and yourself than to be launched out of your comfort zone? This meant going on solitary adventures, wandering the streets for hours with no particular destination in mind, not opting out of an experience just because it seemed different and foreign. And you know what? It’s fun being spontaneous, turning down random streets, getting lost and having no idea where I am. This semester has forced out my spirit of adventure, and it’s the best souvenir I can bring back with me to the States.