London: October 2009

Note: This post was from the blog I kept while in London as a study abroad student: 3 Months and 6 Days Abroad. You can see the actual post here — Day 29: London at Night. It was also published in the newsletter Cheers! In the 4th edition of the publication. I have added this publication to my achievement section, where you can find a bit more information on Cheers! It is also important to know that this was originally written in 2009.

Tonight is something to write home about. All day I was apprehensive about what my evening plans traveling into central London by myself, more specifically the Theatre District, to see the musical Wicked! I had spent last night making travel plans, train from Norbiton to Waterloo, walking from Waterloo to Victoria Street and then take a left into the theatre. Well ladies and gentleman, I would be the one not to follow my plans.

The train went well and the walking did to a point, but then I veered off the path as I often do and managed to get myself about a mile off track. The area felt weird to me, and I couldn’t find myself on the map I was carrying. So I turned to see four very well dressed men behind me, and as I could only do in that moment in time, I asked them for help. One of them pulled out their iphone right away for directions, another looked at my map and they concluded together where I needed to go. They walked me to the road I needed and then I ran. I ran the whole way to the main street I was supposed to be on, Victoria Street, only briefly pausing to ask the nice and well dressed people if I was heading in the right direction. I was running out of leisure time and I was determined to see this musical. I knew I was almost there, and I did not want to risk another ounce of time, so I asked a man next to me to point me in the right direction, he walked me practically to the door. I was about 10 minutes late, but they still let me into the theatre. Folks, if you have not seen Wicked, you need too. I laughed, I cried and it really spoke to everything I was feeling since I have been here. It was the perfect thing for me to see and it was worth everything I went through to get there. All the running, talking to strangers, and the anxiousness I felt about getting to the theatre at all.

There is a very strong story line in Wicked about friendship, and it made me really appreciate the luck I have had with my friends. A line went something like, “I have had many friends, but only one who mattered,” I felt that line really spoke for me. Only instead of only one who mattered, there are a few friends of mine who mean the world to me.

The whole way home I was in the best mood, due to the adrenaline from my experience before the musical and due to the actual musical. I think people avoided me on the way home, because I was just smiling like a manic, sometimes I thought about something so good I would even have a little chuckle escape my hold. So, how do you keep people from approaching you at night in London: be happy for no apparent reason. I did make friends with a little Irish woman. I wanted to make sure I was on the right road; I did not want to wander off. She looked harmless enough sitting at the bus stop, but I think I alarmed her as I approached her. Turns out she was like me a small town person in a big city who just needed to share their night with someone who may even be a stranger. She had been standing in line for two hours to see relics, after travelling all the way from southern Ireland. Basically, she had no idea where she was either. Towards the end of conversation she asked me where I was from, not recognizing my accent and she seemed surprised when I answered New York. Apparently, as I have been told many times I do not have a “brutal American accent”, apparently I have a very “gentle accent.” I guess the stereotype of an American is one with a very harsh accent, but I do not know what that could possibly be… I guess I do not fill in the stereotype, which I think is awesome.

I walked the rest of the way to Parliament square after asking the scattered policemen if I was still going the right way. I could not help but stop in front of the Westminster Abbey and reminisce about the last time I had been in that very spot. I looked up at its too massive pillars and the sculptures of saints and important figures which I had taken pictures of when I was a 10th grader in high school. I remembered thinking then, because of my habitually romantic (in the literary sense) personality, “I am

coming back here.” I had always said it, and thought it and there was never any doubt in my voice, but I am not sure even then I believed I would actually make it back. There I stood tonight, just where I said I would 6 years ago, and I had proved myself right, I had made it back. I am such a different person now. I am independent, as I proved tonight, I am confident, as I proved even taking the chance in coming here, and I have the ability to set goals and reach them, as I proved by making it to Westminster Abbey again 6 years later

(c) Kristin Bergene 2009

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