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Four Years at the Mount

Reflections on the closing of the year

In retrospect...

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(5/2017) In retrospect, the past year has been a bit of a crazy one, but I suppose I was warned that junior year has a tendency to be hectic and unforgiving. Still, I find myself overjoyed and entirely content with what the past year has brought. Besides the overall health and happiness, my extraordinary sister was happily married this past June to a wonderful gentleman who I am thrilled to call my brother in law, my studies have gone well and with the closing of this last semester in my junior year I find I am able to cross off a few things on my bucket list.

While I am writing this, I am thousands of miles above the surface of the Atlantic, returning home from a three-and-a-half-month journey to London where I was studying abroad. I have always known I have wanted to travel and the program that the Mount offers is what drew me here in the first place. My experiences with the people on the trip and in London will be with me forever, and I find myself both happy to return and desolate at leaving the now-familiar streets.

Having never traveled outside the United States before, I found myself, as per usual, of two minds: one part nervous apprehension and one part (a larger portion) elated at the prospect. The months leading up to my departure were filled with me fielding questions, comments, and advice (all helpful, pointless, and repetitive). Finally on the plane heading towards Heathrow, it struck me that I would be traveling further from home than I had ever been before, far from friends and family and all things familiar. In a few hours, I would be in a different country, with a different culture, and with different people. Being an introvert in such a situation was daunting, but I could not find it in myself to be afraid. We touched down and vacated the plane and I took a deep breath, the air was different, a kind of cold damp that was welcoming after the stuffy coach cabin. There were street lights and stoplights and shops and cars (though all were driving on the wrong side of the road). I found that even in a strange place there are signs of familiar comfort.

I lived in North London, in a decent sized room I shared with a roommate (who was a blessing as far as roommates are concerned). It was comfortable and the woman who owned the house was amiable to us. The directions to school were fairly straightforward: get on the Bus until Highgate station, then the Northern Line to Goodge Street, then a left and a right and there you go, simple as that. I got lost my first week of classes and seemed to find every street except for the one I needed. Luckily, a few helpful pedestrians and one policeman later, I found my way. After that, it became easier.

Should you travel to London, know that the public transportation is unparalleled in its efficiency and is probably one of the things I’ll miss the most (odd, I know), pubs have a great atmosphere and even greater comfort food, go to the markets (Borough, Leadenhall, Camden, Brick Lane etc.), Harrods and Fortum & Masons are the best place to play The Price is Right, museums are free, the parks are lovely and tickets for theaters are cheap. There is a lot more than what my word count allows, but there’s the long and the short of it.

I went to Scotland in February, and found it to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Freezing cold, wet, and muddy, but beautiful all the same. The journey through the Highlands was a welcome break from the busy restlessness of the city. We arrived in Edinburgh and from there made our way up to Calendar, the gateway to the Highlands, from there to Loch Ness (no sightings to report), and eventually the Isle of Skye. Along the way, I gave carrots to some of the most tame wild deer I have ever met, washed my face in the river of eternal beauty (and almost fell in), and made a wish at nearly every fairy pool we visited. I loved every second of my time in Scotland from the clear rivers to the hairy cows (Scottish pronunciation: harry coos) to the beautiful mountains and overall feeling of magic and legends that seem to seep out of the stones.

So I have been to London, seen the Globe (though I wasn’t able to experience a performance this time around) and the view from the London Eye, I saw Stonehenge, Shakespeare’s birthplace and White Cliffs of Dover, indulged in an honest to goodness high tea, saw Buckingham palace and Westminster. I have been to the Highlands, seen the Three Sisters of Glencoe, Loch Ness, the stunning coast of the Isle of Skye.

What is more is I have discovered that the world is smaller than you think and too big to be believed. I have found that I am both rubbish at directions and perfectly capable in finding my way and that being lost is the best way to find some things. In retrospect, I have grown more in the last year than I realized and looking ahead I have a lot more growing up to do, many more places to see and people to meet and, of course, some mistakes to make. I am looking forward to it.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir