Finals are completed, dissertations are handed in and bags are being packed. It is the end of the semester in London at Hansard. I felt like my finals went well and that I did the best I was able to on them. The reviews were definitely of use and I felt prepared for the exams that ended up in front of me. I handed in my dissertation soon right before my last final, so that when I finished the test I was completely finished with school work for the semester. After our first final, some of us went over to Parliament to listen to one of the many carol performances. This particular performance was by the Parliament Chorale group. I was intrigued to see something like Parliament have a group where employees and MPs could get together after work and sing.I wondered if the US Congress had something like this as well. The carols were beautiful and we were able to sing along with a few of them. The funny part for me was that I had never heard of some of the carols before!I found that in the UK they ascribe to the more "church-like" carols while in the US we prefer the "commercial-like" carols like "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". I wonder if that is cultural or religious. When someone said how they wish they could sing "Rudolph", someone from Britain commented that that song wasn't a real carol. It is interesting to me when cultural differences like this exist. The concert definitely put me in the holiday spirit though! This was good because the day after finals was dubbed by some of us scholars as "Holiday Day". We met up for ice skating at Somerset House, which was absolutely beautiful! The tree in the courtyard was decorated by Tiffany and Co. and was blue and silver with those favorite blue boxes under the tree (unfortunately for us these ones were empty!). It was a good workout to go skating as well as a fun activity for all of us to share. I know these people are ones I have truly gotten to know during my experience here, have seen me at some of my lowest moments (of loneliness and sadness of missing James), and were more often than not the people who helped me get through those sad/hard times. Our next stop on Holiday Day was Abbey Road (not that it had anything to do with the holidays, but it was one place some of us wanted to go that we hadn't seen yet). We tried to capture the "Abbey Road" picture and came close, but the spot isn't exactly the best place for a photo-opt with all the cars passing by and you literally have to stop traffic to catch the picture. Right before we tried to capture it for us there was a girl who went out to the middle of the crosswalk and stood still until her friend took a picture of her. I thought this was one of the most ridiculous things I had ever seen and that it's no wonder why people can't stand tourists! At least when we tried to capture our photo we walked across the street (slowly), but at least we were progressing and not stopping traffic completely! Our final stop was Tralfagar Square to see the Christmas tree. I thought it was a sad excuse for a Christmas tree since it was pretty bare on the inside and not the full-bodied tree I'm used to picking out. The lights on the tree seemed to also just be thrown on and there wasn't any big ornamentation. That was the end to Holiday Day, which led us back to the flat to start packing for either home or our trips after the program.
Packing and saying goodbye was one of the most difficult parts of the program. I went into this program so sad that I was leaving a group of friends that I was so close with, a boyfriend I loved, and a life I was comfortable in for the unknown and unfamiliar city of London. I came out of this program not wanting to leave the people that helped me through one of the most trying experiences of my life. I made new friends and began to become comfortable in the setting I was in with them. We lived in such close quarters in London that it will be difficult for the people I grew closest with to be states away from me once we all return to the US. Maybe it was a means of survival in this program, but I became attached to these people and invested and interested in their lives. I hope we all keep our promises and continue to stay in touch and stay a part of each others lives. I didn't realize how much I would cling to some people when I was at the loneliest point I can remember. It really was a lot like my freshman year of college. I went in scared of being without the people I had close bonds with from high school and ended up crying when I left because I became so invested in my life in Boston. It was a little different for me in London because I did want to go back to my life in Boston and my boyfriend, but the reason I latched on to people was much like the first year I spent in college.
Speaking of James…he FINALLY arrived at 2pm today after a 5 hour delay to his flight due to a snow storm in the Northeast. I was in a bad mood last night and this morning and didn't get much sleep. I felt like it was so unfair that I had gone three months without him and I had to wait another five hours before I got to see him. That moment when I saw him at the airport washed away all my brattiness and I was the happiest I had been in my entire life! I never thought I could become so connected to another person, but he honestly completes me as a person, and I was so excited for people in the program to finally meet this boy I had been talking their ears off about for three months! He was (imaginably!) really tired so we took it slow exploring the city together while catching up on things we missed out on while we were away. I was really apprehensive that we would be hesitant around each other at first because we weren't used to each other's company, but it felt like I never left him three months ago and I finally had my best friend back to chat about my life to. We leave for our trip to Ireland and Paris on Sunday, so I won't be writing until we get back to the States. This program has pushed me and rewarded me in so many ways, but in the end I am glad that I didn't walk away from this opportunity and I know it will be something I will cherish for the rest of my life.