Carson Mowery | Guest Reporter
Last September, I received an invitation to join East Central College’s Art and Student Media Clubs on their annual pilgrimage to London, England. This invitation came after reaching out to Leigh Kolb, an English and Journalism Instructor. Attending the Rolla campus, I had never met Leigh in person (we had only communicated via email), nor had I met any of the other students who might also attend; nevertheless, I agreed, and I am so grateful that I did.
Flash forward to today: it has been about two weeks since I have returned from my trip, and every day I think about what an incredible time I had. Every moment in London was an adventure; whether I was frantically searching for the caffeine necessary to fight off jet lag or simply deciding whether or not to turn right or left at the end of a street, there was always something new and exciting to experience.
I think that my favorite part about London (or traveling in general) is the way each individual in my group left with a vastly different experience. For the most part, we visited the same locations and walked the same streets, and yet we each told different stories at the end of the day.
My London was a literary one; I scouted the homes of my favorite authors and stood in awe of the greatest literary artifacts in the British Library. I stood at the top of Primrose Hill and thought of how Sylvia Plath must have felt when she first moved to London at 22 years old; I stood outside both of Plath’s homes and thought about her life and her work, and how she has impacted me as both a writer and a woman. I ambled through the Canterbury Cathedral and felt Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” come to life as I happened upon the perpetual candle, which stands in the spot where the shrine of St. Thomas (who was murdered in the Cathedral) once stood until it was seized under the ruling of King Henry VIII.
I toured the reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and lamented that the performance season would not begin until one month after our departure. In regards to more recent literature, I also found Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station, a beloved site among Harry Potter fans. Many of my souvenirs were books, some of which were significant to the location, and some of which were not (the exact number is not important, but that’s a different story).
Since I have returned, I have continually been asked, “How was London?,” or “What did it feel like to finally be there?” and the best way to describe how I felt is to say that I felt electrified. I roamed streets that served as inspiration for my literary icons; I admired portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, depicting some of the world’s most influential leaders and individuals. I saw great works of art and countless artifacts I had only ever studied in books, and witnessing it firsthand is an experience difficult to articulate. There were many occasions in which I found myself rendered silent and awe-stricken, and sometimes even moved to tears.
I have known for a long time that I would make travel an important part of my life, and I am so grateful that I was blessed with this opportunity. During this trip, I made lifelong friends with people I had only met three times prior, I tried my best to absorb as much wisdom as possible from our advisors, Adam and Leigh, and through all of this and more, I was able to learn quite a bit about myself. It was remarkable and transformative in every facet. Sylvia Plath once said that she “loved living there [London] and never wanted to leave.” I finally understand what she meant.