Sometimes you don't realize how familiar and settled you are in a new place until you have to show someone else around and plan activities. So was my experience freshman year the first time my family visited me at IU. Now, after only two weeks in London, my mom came to visit, and it was up to me to show her around my home for this summer.
Since I had only been here two weeks and spent most of that time at work, in class or relaxing at our apartments, I hadn't been to many of London's major tourist attractions. In a way, that was a good move because then we could see most everything for the first time together. During her week here, she got true British weather (cloudy and upper 50s/low 60s with on and off rain), but that didn't stop us from covering so much ground. This was also a great chance for me to scout out sites for the rest of my classmates to check out.
I had a list of everything I wanted to see in London with my mom, and we accomplished that and more. We watched the guards change at Buckingham Palace (but in an abbreviated ceremony, since they don't do the full thing when it rains). We toured Westminster Abbey, saw the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, ate amazing food near Piccadilly Circus and watched a performance of Les Miserables, one of our favorite shows. We walked along the River Thames during the one beautiful sunset we got that week and a few days later, we rode the famous London Eye and got spectacular views of the city from 443 feet in the air.
It was my responsibility to know where we were going and figure out how we were getting there. Who knew after such a short period of time that I'd be settled in enough to give someone else a grand (even though brief) tour of a foreign city. I've more or less figured out the Tube system through central London (but don't ask me to get you anywhere by bus!) and knew enough of the streets to be able to walk from one site to the next (except for the time I underestimated the distance from Trafalgar Square to the Tate Modern - still sorry for that, mom). Now I feel like I've truly seen London, and am excited to explore other places nearby, like some of the places I've traveled to with my classmates.
While London has so much to do and so much to see, sometimes you need a little time away from the noise and fast pace of a bustling city. My mom's visit came sandwiched between two class day trips, one week to Bath and Lacock and the other to Canterbury. All three places are more rural, historical sites about two hours away from London. Seeing the green hills and even a few cows out the window as the bus drove by was definitely refreshing from the many buildings and cars and busses we see each day. Canterbury is the site of what is considered to be the most important cathedral in England, and Bath is the site of large ancient Roman baths. Both had plenty of nice shops and restaurants, however. And the traveling doesn't stop there. This coming weekend, one friend and I will spend some time in Scotland. We're both very excited!
Things at my internship have been going well; I'm starting to help out more with research tasks and am definitely learning a lot about working for a public relations agency. You can read more about one week at my internship here!
With all the activity over the last week, I'm certainly exhausted; fortunately I had two days to relax and recover before starting another week of work and class. I still can't believe three weeks have already gone by, but I know the next five will be the best yet.
As the British would say, cheers!