Guest Blogger Erin, Utah
On July 27, 2012 the world turned their eyes to London for the start of the 2012 Olympics. Just 10 days earlier, I had traveled home from London and the biggest adventure of my life. As a small-town girl from Utah, moving to a city as large as London was both terrifying and thrilling.
After 13 hours of traveling I was exhausted, but full of hopes, dreams and excitement, and ready for the adventure before me. (That mood lasted about an hour before I was in tears, on the phone with my mom, and ready to come home.) The apartment I had rented in London turned out to be in a bad area of town; I had no idea where I was, nor how to locate the landlord with the key to my apartment.
I finally got my key and went up to my apartment, only to find mold on the walls, dirt on the bedding and dust everywhere. After talking to my landlord and my mom, I realized I was going to be late to an internship orientation meeting. I tried to leave the apartment, but I couldn’t open the door. Rust was stuck in the hinges and I couldn’t get out. I had to bang on the door and call my neighbor to come take the door apart. I grabbed my bags and made a run for it. I was homeless in London.
Before I found an apartment online (which looked nothing like the pictures posted!) I was accepted by Room for Tea, and organization that pairs interns and students abroad with people in London who are renting out an extra room. In exchange for cheaper rent, students help with household chores. I was leaving my orientation meeting when Room for Tea confirmed they had a place I could stay for the night, and if I got on with the woman I could sign the contract and stay the rest of my visit. I went, with my two big suitcases and a carry-on, to meet a woman named Zoe who became my roommate for the next three months.
Joining Kappa Kappa Gamma was a life changing experience; it has defined my college career and shaped me as a woman. Before London, I didn’t think I would ever find anything that changed me as much. Moving half way around the world and experiencing one disaster after another on my first day became a close second. My first few hours in London might have been terrifying, exhausting, and just plain awful, but the next three months more than made up for the rough start.
The Hinckley Institute of Politics arranged an internship for me in the Houses of Parliament working under Jonathan Evans, Member of Parliament. I got to work in buildings that were more than one thousand years old and attend meetings and sessions of Parliament daily. I ventured to Scotland and Norway, saw the city of Bath and Stonehenge, toured museums, castles and churches, watched the races in the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot and saw the Olympic venues. I met friends I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life. I met former President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and had the chance to hear them speak on humanitarian efforts and equality.
I learned an incredible amount during my time in London, and throughout it all I was complimented on my poise, for which I have Kappa to thank. I met Kappas in London when I wore my letters and even got to see two of my own chapter members as they passed through London on their travels.
I developed a confidence in myself and what I stand for. In parting I’ll leave you with this: make plans, but know how to think on your feet when you watch them fall apart. Meet people—you never know how dramatically they will impact your life. Keep going, whether in Kappa or in life. If you quit you will never know what’s on the other side of the rough patch, and from my experience, the view is worth it.