Long Journey to London

Elisabeth Heyde London, England


May 19, 2017
By Elisabeth Heyde, London Summer Internship, England

The summer in between my freshman and sophomore year, I took French 103 in a small town in Provence called Arles. Arles is best known as where Van Gogh painted Starry Night and cut his ear off. I choose to study abroad that first time because I had to take four semesters of a language and if I was going to take French, I figured I might as well take it in the south of France.

Provence is beautiful. To this day, I still get irritated watching Beauty and the Beast when Belle complains about her provincial town and provincial life. It was consistently sunny the entire four weeks and only rained on the day of our final exam. I stayed with a host family with two sons around my age. My host mother cooked delicious French cuisine for dinner every night. During these dinners, my younger host brother told me about his plan to study English in England the next summer. From what my subpar French allowed me to understand, it sounded amazing. Never mind the fact that I was doing the exact same thing in France and I already spoke fluent English; I was insanely jealous. By the end of my time in Arles, I longed to travel to London as well.

After returning to the States, I missed Europe and often daydreamed about going back. The fall semester of my junior year, I did. I studied at Instituto Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence, Italy. I had taken Italian in high school and the program at LdM worked perfectly with my major requirements and university schedule. I loved Italy, loved Florence, and loved LdM. My roommates and I would joke that our beautiful apartment a few blocks away from the Duomo would be the nicest place any of us would ever live. I ate gelato, practiced my Italian, and attempted to learn to paint frescos although I was probably best at eating gelato. As the Italians say, “la vita é bella”.

In fact, the only thing that could make life any better would be to visit London. For my fall break, it looked like I was finally going to get the chance. I signed up to take a ten day trip traveling around the United Kingdom and Ireland. I spent hours planning all the places I go and all the things I would do. Then, a week before fall break, I got an email saying the trip had been cancelled due to lack of interest. Instead, I ended up spending my fall break in Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris so I still had an amazing time. (Side note: if you are ever in Prague, try trdelnik! It's like a cylinder shaped churro and it can be filled with ice cream, chocolate or fruit.)

I still desperately wanted to go to London and consoled myself with the knowledge that someway somehow I'd get to London eventually. When the time came to plan my summer, I knew, practically, I needed an internship and I couldn't just study abroad again. So, I thought to myself, “there must be internships in London, right?” At first, I tried searching for internships the old fashioned way, by googling “internships in London.” When it became obvious that that was not going to work, I wondered if perhaps the study abroad office might have a program which offered internships. As luck would have it, they did.

In a few days, I'll get on a plane and eight hours later, my long journey to London will be over. And then, the real adventure can begin.

Elisabeth is a student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is blogging from her summer abroad with the London Internship Program, Summer program, in London, England.