A few weeks back I officially hit the one year mark here in England.
In the course of a lifetime it’s not that long, really, but looking back it feels like ages ago that I was sitting alone at MSP waiting to board my flight.
In honor of passing the mark I thought I’d put together a little recap so that I never forget the adventures that each month brought.
I arrived in the UK blurry and wide-eyed walking into my empty flat with nothing but jet lag, 4 suitcases and a room key. Sooner than I ever could have anticipated, though, I started to settle in and make London my own. School ramped up and the weather was perfect. We snuck away for entire days to ride the bus to the other side of town to drink fancy coffee and go to brunch in Notting Hill and Soho.
In the aftermath of the presidential election I came face to face with the realities of how America’s political decisions affect the world. And as Christmas approached I wandered around on the hunt for the perfect English door + Christmas wreath combo and had way too many servings of mulled wine while simultaneously wrapping up finals and studying for finance on the way to the Harry Potter Studios (whoops :)).
Autumn brought walking and walking and more walking to get to know my new borough.
It brought pub dinners and first attempts at friendships.
It brought first day of class nerves, settling into a school routine again and remembering what it’s like to be woefully lost in Finance (cue the library).
It brought a memory of an off-hand church recommendation from someone in the States – and walking out of the first service in tears, knowing a home had been found.
It brought a reaffirmation of my love for trains, rain washed European cobblestones and being in any city that makes me feel like I’m at Hogwarts.
It brought a Fall Break that saw me solo in London for 4-5 days… Retreating and wandering and praying and soaking it all in.
It brought an unexpected weekend hanging with a group of a ‘friend of a friend of a friend’ Californians and an introduction to a certain firefighter.
It brought the moment I knew Albs and I would be friends for the long haul when we were trapped in Norway, could barely afford to eat, and spent an entire night giggling and doing absolutely nothing in our Airbnb.
It brought rainy days for weeks on end – perfect for diving into all those end of term papers I’d been avoiding.
It brought a moment where the city got to be too much and this country girl had to escape to the coast.
It brought the feeling of ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ to a whole new, beautiful light.
Norway: Oslo + Bergen
Scotland: Edinburgh + Loch Ness + Highlands
UK: Oxford + Brighton + Harry Potter Studios (totally counts)
All the visitors began rolling in and I barely went to class (thank God for Spring Break) but had a blast hosting and travelling with so many people from MN. It was the ultimate colliding of two worlds.
Spring rolled on and before I knew it we were in the final stretch of classes and I was forced to take a deep look at the future. For the first time since I moved I was truly confronted with the question, “What do I want?” for so many facets of my life.
January brought an invitation to join a friend on an Alpha course and watching their journey to faith begin.
It brought bottles of rose sipped on the warm, sunny coast of the Côte d’Azur.
It brought accompanying a friend and her nostalgia and tears to a Piazza and place that she loves.
It brought sunsets on roof terraces overlooking Tuscany.
It brought Irish road trips trying to find castles and blasting Ed Sheeran.
It brought crab cake sandwiches and pints of ale on picnic tables next to the Atlantic.
Mostly food … it brought a lot of food 🙂
It brought a connect group weekend away in the English countryside – going on rambles in the woods, cooking Indian food and opting for a girls slumber party instead of separate rooms.
It brought God-given gut feelings, last minute flights, waterfalls, trust and new beginnings.
France: Nice + Èze
Ireland: Dublin + Ring of Kerry + Dingle + Shannon
Italy: Cinque Terre + Siena
Switzerland: Lucerne + Interlaken + Grindelwald + Lauterbrunnen + Mürren + Zurich
UK: Henley on Thames + Malshanger + Cambridge
May / June / July / August
The Summer kicked off with Alba and I nearly being homeless – but one miraculously fast international wire transfer later – were able to move into our new flat in Earl’s Court.
I started working full time and successfully avoided even thinking about my dissertation. London woke up from winter all around us and I spent much of my time finding new routes home from work to admire it all.
The rest of the Summer was .. well .. normal. I worked full time and spent days at a time at various coffee shops and libraries around London working on my thesis.
It brought an afternoon spent rolling suitcase after suitcase across Earl’s Court to our new flat, laughing and sweating the whole way.
It brought day trips to castles and gardens in Kent.
It brought afternoons spent reading in the land of canals.
It brought 2 unexpected trips to MN (thanks Mom and Dad!) and 1 to Cali.
It brought a weekend away to the south coast with my Alpha group getting to watch them discover Jesus.
It brought daily walks in Hyde Park on my lunch break – rain or shine.
It brought way too much time spent on FaceTime across 8 time zones.
It brought dissertations completed and birthday celebrations hiking the coastline of Wales.
It brought days on the lake Up North and Grandma’s cooking.
It brought adventures into the Highlands, dodging sheep as we wound down single lane roads.
The Netherlands: Amsterdam
Scotland: Glasgow + The Highlands
UK: Bristol + Bath + Kent + the South Coast
USA: California + Minnesota (x3)
This year truly felt like the tale of the 3 terms.
Autumn, Spring and Summer were all so incredibly different it almost feels like 3 different lives. Each brought their own unique challenges, joys and places travelled and I wouldn’t trade one day of any of them for anything.