Submitted by: Jennifer Layton (Student Assistant)
Katherine Butler Hathaway once said, “A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without families in order to be open to influences, to change.” I spent the fall of 2005 with the Wingate-in-London group. This quote by Hathaway sums up my trip abroad. I left my family and friends, the familiar, at the end of August. Studying abroad has always been a dream for me. Wingate-in-London made it possible for me to do just that. When I first arrived in London, I , like others on the trip, was in complete culture shock. Everything was astoundingly different from home. The first few weeks we had to dodge cars and bikes because we were not used to cars coming at us from our right side first. Here at home, I now look in the wrong direction. Furthermore, the lingo was wildly unusual. We had to get used to calling our apartment a “flat” and referring to the subway as “the tube”. We learned quickly that to thank anyone for anything in London, you simply say “Cheers!” While traveling across the city for classes, taking in the culture and sightseeing, we became up-close and personal with some of the locals. No matter where you are trying to go or what you are trying to accomplish in London, you are NEVER alone. Often I did get annoyed with people being in my space all of the time. This was something I had to adjust to.
Fortunately for me, London was not the only new culture that I experienced while away. I traveled nearly every weekend. I revisited Paris, France (1st trip in 2001). A few weeks later, I took off for Lucca, Italy where I stayed with an Italian family for a week along with two fellow Wingate University students. During our fall break in Lucca, we visited Florence and Pisa. After flying back to London, I had only 36 hours to unpack, repack and fly out to Northern Ireland. My room-mate from my freshman year at Lees-McRae College is from Northern Ireland. I spent a lovely 4-day week with her family in Armagh. She took me on a trip along the north coast, which was so beautiful and had a lot of history. A few weeks later, I took off for Amsterdam with the girls in my flat. Amsterdam was one of my most relaxed trips; it is such a beautiful city. My last and final trip was Venice two weeks before my return home. Venice was stunning as well and an intriguing city but due to its small vicinity, it did not take long to see most of it. My trips were not limited to my personal ones. We, as a group had to go on several “academic” trips. We visited Bath, Stonehenge, Oxford, Plymouth, and Edinburgh/Glasgow (Scotland). Each, left an impression on me and I will forever be changed. I have seen the world through new eyes and will be much more receptive to new cultures as a result.