I’m writing this inside a teahouse. I have a scone and a pot of fancy tea off to one side and a friend from Ouachita on the other. This particular shop is decorated with fairy lights and flowers. Cakes, packages of tea and hand-painted kettles and mugs fill the countertops and walls, while songs of the coffeehouse variety fill the air. In short, I’ve stepped into an American’s stereotype of England. And it’s lovely.
Actually, if I’ve learned one thing after living here for nearly two months, it’s that the simplest moments are often the loveliest. Please, don’t roll your eyes; I know how cheesy it sounds. But when I think about my time abroad so far, it’s not the huge, terribly exciting occasions that stick out the most.
It’s renting a rowboat with two good friends in Oxford, careening down the river, singing and getting stuck and drawing the attention of several bemused onlookers. It’s experiencing overwhelming joy at my first sight of Big Ben and the houses of Parliament and the River Thames – places I’ve longed to see in person since I knew they existed. It’s forming friendships with some of the British students from class and feeling accepted. It’s attending an incredibly welcoming and joyful church, finding comfort in the fact that brothers and sisters in Christ do exist across the ocean.
Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to finally indulge my wanderlust. I’ve seen big cities and secluded beaches, medieval cathedrals and Roman ruins. There is something surreal, something so fascinating I can’t get it into precise words, about seeing places I’ve read of in my favorite books. Getting to study English literature in England is a blessing that had previously existed only in my wildest dreams.
I think the best thing about studying abroad – even better than all the traveling – is how much God has grown me – and is still growing me. He has shown me just how big and diverse the world is and how desperately people need Him. Through homesickness and actual sickness, I’ve learned to depend on Him in a way I don’t think I would have otherwise. God has this really cool way of using each and every circumstance, high or low, to teach me something new.
I still have two and a half months to go, and I can’t wait to see what they hold.
Interested in studying abroad? The application deadline is March 1. To learn more about Ouachita’s study abroad program, click here.
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