London first caught my eye from halfway around the world. Wandering across the Venice Beach boardwalk and sweating underneath a pair of ten dollar CVS sunglasses, I stopped in front of a newly slicked-on layer of graffiti; “We must be somewhere in London,” it said. “We must be loving our lives in the rain.” As the sun streaked down and my skin continued to burn, I could think of little else better than being an entire ocean and a river away. But now that London is so close– just over a week away– I’m trying to envision my own life in the rain for the next five months.
The plane tickets have been purchased, the bags are (almost) packed. The temporary goodbyes are being said, and I’m already trying to make them last. But as small as the world has become in recent decades, London and LA aren’t as far apart as they may seem on a map. Four thousand miles is a distance that can easily be traversed by WiFi and Skype, by social media and even these very blog posts– but that has made me realize how important true face-to-face time is with a person, how vital it is to live in the present time and place. In the words of the same artist who painted my wanderlust for London; “There are no shortcuts. So stop thinking you should already be there.” And it’s true; social media is just a shortcut to another life. I’ll watch my friends’ adventures, and they’ll watch mine. But that doesn’t have to hold us back from truly experiencing the world unless we let it.
Life is best lived offline, and I’ve decided to make that part of my goal for study abroad. Even though I’m not ready to relinquish my relationships back home and at Cornell, I’m looking forward to adopting a new lifestyle and not wondering what I would be doing otherwise. I won’t be in “La La Land,” or engrossed in news feeds. I’ll be immersed in London and its literature from Shakespeare’s Globe to Sherlock Holmes’ 221B Baker Street, and I hope I’m too in love with my surroundings to worry about anything else. While I’m undoubtedly a little nervous for this upcoming semester, I’m thrilled that I won’t have to imagine London anymore– I’ll actually be there. I’ll be “day-tripping” instead of “day-dreaming.” I’ll be loving my life in the rain.