“And the danger is that in this move toward new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness.”
I’ve been in London for almost three months now, yet it feels longer. My friend said London has this odd way of welcoming you back, making you feel like you have never left. It was nice because I didn’t spend much time to adjust. It wasn’t so nice because to me London somehow lost its charm.
Before I came I had told myself I would spend more time in its grand museums, visit its charming bookshops, enjoy its parks, do things I had missed. In reality, I barely do any of those. I haven’t stepped back to my favourite museum, V&A, I haven’t gone back to my favourite bookshops, Daunt and Persephone, I haven’t visited those lovely old pubs. My life rotates around my study, campus, classes, library, academic readings, and time spent commuting.
The course materials added to my stress. In my first month, I struggled a lot. Ideas were abstract and they were like bubbles floating and then burst when I was about to grasp them. The lecturers – all the great names on textbooks and journals – always talked passionately in class. I felt so disconnected because I just didn’t get what it was they were so passionate about.
The amount of information my poor brain has received the past months is overwhelming and most of the time I just wanted to shut down. I didn’t want to leave my room or socialise in a non-academic context. When I had time to spend I calculated it carefully. More academic reading, cooking, running, or pleasure reading? Then there was always this guilt shadowed me every time I spent my time doing a non-academic activity (like writing this post).
I realised I need to hit the pause button and stop trying to understand. We ditched Netflix and books for Regent’s Park. Last time we had been here was April, a time full of uncertainties. Some of our questions have found their answers but new questions emerged. And I knew that it will always be like this with life.
We walked in Queen’s Mary Garden. In April, there had been no roses and the soil had been frozen. Now they all bloomed beautifully although it was autumn. All shades of reds one could imagine were there, dozens different shades of yellow, orange and white. The garden was gorgeous and I was lost in the excitement. I forgot about my lectures, the academic texts, and my worries about the future. The afternoon golden sun, the soft breeze, the distant children’s laughter, the roses, all transported me to a happy place.
Of course, the next day all those worries came back. Again, I spend many hours in libraries or on my desk in my room, scratching my head trying to make sense of a text or notes from my lessons. But I have that day I walked in the park. A walk that was much needed. I guess my walk that day snapped me back to the reality that I was in London, that the struggle I experienced with my study happened in London. That I had left my comfort zone, crossing oceans and borders. I was far from home. It was an odd sensation as if the past weeks I had been neither here nor there. It is really strange that when you venture to a new horizon, you can lose a sense of direction. As if the compass in you was broken. But the golden afternoon sun fixed it. It was an utterly beautiful scene that it brought back all my senses.
I guess London never really loses its charm.
Visit The Royal Parks website for more information. They said that the best time to see the best blooms is in the first two weeks of June.