Editor’s note: Bekah, daughter of Roy Sandoval, is in England to study English Literature as part of a student exchange program at East Angle University in England. She also feels strongly about giving Payson students a vision of stretching their wings and studying abroad. She will be reporting on her activities in England several times a month.
The heart of London is a mass of roads weaving in and out of tall, commanding buildings with oddly shaped windows. Big Ben emerges from the mass with dignity and refinement, much like the people over whom he faithfully watches day after day.
The streets are lined with elegant residences and brightly-colored doors, with fluffy trees awaiting summer’s end in anticipation of the fall season. It is a different world from that which I am accustomed — I felt immediately enveloped deep within its massive arms, just as the English sun is enveloped by the clouds.
I reluctantly made my way to Liverpool Station, where I hopped onto a train that carried me through the English countryside and to my temporary home.
I had left Arizona the morning before. That particular day, the sun was shining and it was warm outside. My parents drove me to the airport, where we checked in and said a quick goodbye.
The preceding weeks had been full of both grave anxiety and elated excitement. I was itching to leave and to experience a semester of true independence, but the thought of traveling so far from the sunshine and a loving family was utterly terrifying to me.
A passion for literature plucked me from the comforts of home and dropped me at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. And it was a consolation the day of my departure to think about my favorite literary figures who had at one time found themselves in a similar position — who had felt an irrepressible urge inside of them to venture forth into the unknown world, to be planted and to grow in foreign soil, to discover a separate self that was all too often buried beneath complacency.
I remembered the emboldened Jo of Little Women who left Orchard House to pour out her writings on the streets of New York; of Anne Shirley who left little Avonlea for the eminent courts of Queen’s College; of Bilbo Baggins who ventured from the Shire through the rugged mountains of Middle Earth to carry the ring.
The idea is prominent in most every literary work: Growth is often a painful and unpredictable process; it requires one to be removed from what is comfortable and to allow oneself to be shaped by an ever-spinning wheel of change.
The day before I left, a friend read to me a passage from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Following his departure to London, the main character Pip describes the sentiments felt upon leaving home: “So subdued I was by those tears […] I deliberated with an aching heart whether I would not get down when we changed horses and walk back […] We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on. And the mists had all solemnly risen now, and the world lay spread before me.”
Oh, how similarly I felt the day that I left for London; but my first morning in Norwich brought much comfort, for I opened my bedroom curtains to find that my flat overlooks a lovely meadow and a lake.
There was sunshine that first morning and the grass and trees were so beautifully green and alive. Just as Pip had described, the morning mists rose to reveal a wonderful world spread out before me.
It is a world very different from my home, but it is an extraordinary one just the same.