30 in 30 Project: London Calling

Both my undergraduate degree and my master's degree are in English Literature. As a 20 year old undergraduate senior attending a small state university, I was completely enthralled with one of my English professors. She was brilliant. She was sarcastic. She was a feminist. She taught both intercession (January) and summer classes in England.

I took as many English lit. classes with her as my schedule would allow. She spoke often of the classes she taught in the U.K. She encouraged her students to take one, so we could see the places that inspired the writers we were reading in her classes. I was sold. I had never been abroad before, and I wanted so badly to go. The only issue was the cost.

My college tuition was split three ways. My mom paid a third, my dad paid a third, and I paid the remaining third with a scholarship I had earned, plus my wages from my part-time job. There was no way I could afford a class in England, as much as I so desperately wanted to go. But then my mom stepped in, and gave me my college graduation present six months early. She gave me the best gift I ever could have hoped for: she introduced me to travel. And my wanderlust was born.

In January of 1997, I took a three-week class called "Literature and London Museums," taught by my beloved favorite professor, in the U.K. My seven classmates and I stayed in a B&B and were served toast in a cute little silver toast rack for breakfast. My professor held classes in the British Museum, the Tate Modern museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Windsor Castle, The Tower of London, Westminister Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, and many other cultural areas in and around London. And we didn't just stay in London either. We traveled and had classes in Bath, site of the Roman Baths, York, where beautiful Yorkminster Abbey will stay forever etched in my mind, and Dover, where the amazing white cliffs dwarfed us all.

And we were even allowed some free time to take trips on our own. A group of us went to Paris for the day, and another group of us later went to Edinburgh.

This three-week class opened the world to me, as I realized how much lay outside the insulated little universe in upstate New York where I had grown up. It created in me an insatiable desire to travel. To experience new cultures. To expose myself to different world views. To see in person the places I had only read about before. And in many ways, this trip defined my 20s for me, as I spent the next 10 years trying to cram in as much travel as I possibly could afford to do.

When I returned from my class, I knew I was forever changed. I started making immediate plans to return to the U.K. following graduation in May, and I did exactly that. I left in August 1997 to spend five months living and working in London, and traveling around the British Isles. But that experience is a post for another time.

My classmates and me (first row, on the left, with the black hat on) in front of Windsor Castle, just outside of London.

Me in front of Tower Bridge, London.

Me in Trafalgar Square, London.

Me in front of the Pizza Express in York, a very fancy chain of pizza restaurants all over the U.K., and home to the second best pizza I've ever tasted.

My classmates and me (I'm dead center) in front of the entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris.

10 Responses to “30 in 30 Project: London Calling”

  1. # Anonymous Clare Eats

    I would love to do something like that!
    the closest I hve come is 10 day trip to NZ in year 10 (I was 15), we had an AWESOME time  

  2. # Blogger Shannon

    I've never been anywhere except Canada (doesn't count) and Belize for a week. I vowed I would travel before I hit 35 but circumstances have not let that happen. Now I vow before I am 40! Maybe a honeymoon trip to the British Isles? I'm Irish by ancestry and have always wanted to go to the Ould Country. Sigh.  

  3. # Blogger Dawn

    I would love to take a trip like that. It looks and sounds like you had a great time. And those are great pictures, really capture some memorable moments!  

  4. # Blogger Binulatti

    My very favorite picture of you is from this era. You're sitting at a dim, candlelit table in some brick-walled pub, with some flowers and table accoutrements in the foreground. Best part is that you're in a Joy Division shirt (Love will tear us apart) and you're posing in a very similar way to the "pizza express" pic. It's framed, on my CD shelf. ;-)  

  5. # Blogger Geekwif

    I would love to travel. I've never been overseas. Like Shanno, the only country I've been to (besides the US) is Canada. Not very far to go from Minnesota. I would love to go to Europe - Italy perhaps, or Scotland. Aw heck, just about anywhere in Europe would do.  

  6. # Anonymous Ramona

    Just imagine how that college professor has impacted your life! What a great opportunity!
    What did you do in London for those 5 months?
    I love that you posted pictures too, that was a really nice treat. I haven't travelled much in the past 5 years and miss it TERRIBLY! I am so looking forward to Greg and I getting our finances in order so that we can start doing some trips together.
    I think that I'm really giong to like this Retrospect on your 20's...  

  7. # Anonymous baby furniture new york

    Today I was out blog surfing looking for detailed info on free baby photo contest when I found your page. Your site is not an exact match but it did catch my interest. I am going to add you to my favorite list of blogs for future reading and reference. Should you ever need information on free baby photo contest then drop by the site above and check it out.  

  8. # Blogger Shannon

    Wow, Kristi, that comment above is a really insidiously harmless-sounding spam! Kinda creepy. You may want to add the "word verification" option onto your comment moderation section to avoid that in the future.  

  9. # Blogger Kristi

    Clare-I would love to visit NZ. I actually work for a NZ-based company, and we have a bunch of Kiwis in our office. I'm jealous of your trip!

    Shannon-Ireland would be a fabulous spot for a honeymoon. It is absolutely gorgeous, and exactly how I pictured it in my mind.

    And yeah, I hate the spam. But I haven't gotten hardly any until my posts started mentioning "baby" and now I'm getting quite a bit.

    Dawn-I have so many pictures from this trip, and luckily, I labeled them all so I can go back and know exactly what I'm looking at in the photos.

    Karrie-I remember that photo! I like it to, although I must have given you my only copy.

    Geekwif-there is nowhere in the world quite like Europe. You should definitely visit at least once.

    Ramona-I'm glad you liked it! I worked as a Marketing Assistant for a company that repackaged recycled laser printer cartridges. It was pretty fun, actually. I bet you can't wait to travel again.  

  10. # Anonymous thalia

    kristi, I'm really enjoying the 30 in 30 but one thing here struck me as wrong - you say you went to tate modern for classes, but tate modern wasn't open until late 99. I assume you mean Tate britain (north side of the river, just south of the houses of parliament?)  

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