Ten

I’ve been here for almost 3 weeks now, and I have taken a lot of things in, and taken a lot of things into consideration. Things I love about England, things I miss about LA, things I took for granted at Biola, and things I’ve learned about myself..there’s so much already! So, I’ve made a list of 10 of these things.

  1. Having four seasons in a year is a great thing.
    Us Southern Californians always say we have two seasons in a year – summer and less summer-y. If I were at home right now, I would undoubtedly be sweating. Even though sometimes I think fondly of the scorching hot fall semester in La Mirada – only because it’s something that reminds me of Biola – I am very thankful that London is experiencing beyond awesome weather. Every day it has been in the 60s, and the sun has been shining almost every day so far which I am very grateful for, and I will soak it up as much as I can before the sun slowly disappears for the winter.
  2. Public transportation is amazing, because I’m from LA.
    Most likely if you live in LA, are over the age of 16, and are able to have a car, you drive. Because you have to. There’s no getting places otherwise – it’s just too huge. When I explain to people here that you can drive 12 hours north and still be in California, they shake their head, almost in horror. In London, if you walk 20 minutes, you’ll be in a completely different part of the city, maybe even pass through 2 different parts of it. If I walk 20 minutes at home, all I’ll be is 20 minutes further from where I started. Having efficient, safe public transportation is wonderful and not having to drive everywhere is a relief. It’s also sort of a fun adventure for me every time.
  3. Public transportation is also annoying, because I’m from LA.
    It takes significantly longer to get wherever I need to go. My school is a little bit out of the city, so to get to central London, my friends and I usually allot ourselves about 45-50 minutes for our 7.5-ish mile commute. This involves waiting for the bus, riding the bus for about 13 stops, getting off, going to the tube station, waiting for the tube, and riding that wherever we need to go – and of course you’ll need more time if you need to transfer to any other lines. It starts to feel really long. And the bus can be a nightmare during rush hour. And if you need to go to the store for any reason, you either walk a mile to the closest shop or wait forever for the 265 bus to take you to Asda (British WalMart) and pay your bus fare both ways. Needless to say, I miss driving 3 minutes down the street to Target!
  4. Tap water.
    Getting a cup of water from the kitchen sink is totally normal. Spending money on a Brita filter will not be necessary. It is fabulous.
  5.  (Almost) Everyone looks fashionable/put together everywhere they go.
    And I envy them all. Seeing people in the city makes it really hard to not want to walk into every Primark/H&M/Forever 21/Topshop/etc I see and buy a whole new wardrobe. You guys know how much I love clothes.
  6. Architecture.
    Every building here is gorgeous. Pictures really don’t do them justice. Seeing and experiencing them in person is a completely different ballgame. While I love the modern looking buildings in LA, the beautifully detailed, European, brick buildings here are such a breath of fresh air.
  7. People in LA generally smell pretty good.
    Speaking of breaths of fresh air..doesn’t always happen. The smell of B.O. is much more common here. I’m serious. And I really don’t get why. Is their deodorant not as strong? Do they just not wear any? Who knows. Even when it’s 100+ degrees at home, I swear I don’t smell half as much B.O. as I do here in London where it’s about 40 degrees cooler. It boggles my mind.
  8. I miss boba.
    Honeyboba? Guppy’s? I’m drooling thinking about their milk tea+boba. In fact, I had Honeyboba about an hour before heading to the airport. I have yet to try the random “bubble tea” places I have seen around the city because I’m not sure if it’s going to satisfy my craving or intensify it. Although not having easy access to boba will definitely be beneficial to my health and my wallet.
  9. I seriously love Biola.
    Anyone who has asked me about my college experience thus far will know how much I love Biola and how much I talk it up. When you walk onto Biola’s campus, you definitely notice something different and unique about the atmosphere, and I miss that. I love the quirky community. I adore our loving, caring, grace-giving professors. I miss our dorky school-wide events. I miss our clean, litter-free campus, where I won’t walk out of my dorm and see hundreds of cigarette butts or broken beer bottles. I took our beautiful library for granted, as well as our comfortable, homey rooms. Although I’m not really that homesick and wouldn’t trade the experience of being here at Roehampton for the semester, I know that returning to Biola will bring me lots of joy.
  10. I am part of two cultures – Asian & American, but still feel less cultured than people who are just English.
    I’ve realized that I am sort of a weird specimen. I look Asian, but sound and act very American. Being a 4th generation Japanese American, I personally don’t have a very strong connection to my Japanese culture, but also cannot say I am fully American. And American/LA culture is really just this huge mixture of a bunch of different things anyways – we are the “melting pot” after all. So instead of having two cultures, I feel almost as if I just have two halves, combining to make one in-between, hodge podge, limbo-land culture. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be Asian American! But seeing how strong British culture and other European cultures are is such a contrast to my life, and has caused me to reflect on my own culture(s).

I’m so excited to keep experiencing new things and to keep learning. If there is anything any of you would like me to cover, please do let me know! 🙂

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Expectations

Expectations are a funny thing. They either lead you on, or are blown out of the water. I find that my expectations are hardly ever exactly what I get in the end.

I thought I knew what my expectations of studying abroad were – that it was going to be this sort of magical, surreal, once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity kind of feeling for four months straight. But if I’m honest, it hasn’t been that way. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I am here. Not many people get to do what I’m doing, and it is truly a special experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. And hello, London is amazing! It just doesn’t feel the way I thought it would feel. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it’s partially because this city is familiar to me in a sense – I was just here on vacation at the beginning of the year, and I even visited the university. So all the giddiness and excitement and wonderment that comes with being in a new environment and a new school wasn’t quite there as much as I had imagined. Maybe it’s the inevitable stress of school looming about, or maybe it’s because I miss my support system back home.

Or maybe it’s because this trip truly isn’t about me. Maybe I’m not here for the sole purpose of having fun, making friends, traveling the world, and getting to say that I lived in London for a season of my life. Yes those things are great, and I truly hope all those things happen. But ever since I got here, it has been clear to me that there is more to this experience than my own personal enjoyment.

My summer was centered around the theme “live for something greater”, a theme that will perpetuate through the rest of my life, and of course this semester is no different. I look around this city and see an ocean of broken people. Lonely people. People in need of love and grace. People in need of acceptance, and people who need to be told that they have worth. And where do I come into play? No idea. I’m just as broken as the next person, and by no means do I see myself as some sort of savior or healer. All I have is this burden on my heart, and a God who has called me to love. If I can live out of an overflow of His love and let it drive me to action, perhaps I will experience far more than the fleeting satisfaction of “broadening my horizons”, and instead experience a deep, fulfilling satisfaction in Christ.

But overall, I’m learning a lot about myself, about other people, about other cultures and my own. I’ve also done a ton of sightseeing, I traveled to Ireland, and am in the process of learning how to cook (if what I have been doing can even be considered cooking). I promise that I’m having fun and really enjoying it here, especially the weather! So much better than the sauna that is La Mirada. And then I remember that it’s eventually going to be freezing and I get a little sad. Haha. I’ve had some crazy adventures already and have made new friends from Roehampton as well as from Biola, and new memories that I will hopefully be showing through video!

I made this blog with the intention of it being a bit more on the reflective side, and not so much the documentation of my activities, so sorry if that’s what you’re waiting for! But I promise my next blog post that will be up in a few days will be a bit more fun. Bear with me! Thanks for reading my inner ramblings.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18