Maddie is a junior majoring in advertising and minoring in sociology and Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.

London was definitely quite the learning experience, but more so a growing experience, for me at least. Indeed, I learned a great deal about international advertising and the media in Great Britain from class, all of which will help me in the future with my career. Yet, it is the things I learned and saw outside of class that will help me be a better person and live a better life. I feel like a changed person, a person not afraid to try new things or attempt to speak a different language or even get a little lost from time to time.

To be bold
I have learned to be more open-minded and bold. There are so many different viewpoints and ideas in this world, and many are respectable and admirable. Without diversity in opinion and character our world would be an awfully boring place, and nothing creative or inventive would ever surface. Actually immersing myself in a new culture has changed everything. Whether it’s politics, fashion, entertainment or food, being different is a good thing and makes experiencing those different things memorable and special.

I’m convinced that my newly developed open-mindedness has made me a better person and a bolder individual. For example, never before would I have agreed to try something like black pudding, because I am fully aware of its contents, yet being in London and seeing how prevalent and traditional the dish was I decided to try it. Similarly, when I was in Scotland I decided to listen to Alex’s father and taste a-must-have delicacy called haggis. Also in Scotland, I left my stable state and joined in on the ten or so Scottish dances in the castle ballroom. Never have I felt so incredibly awkward and clueless, but it was so worth it! All the twirling, stomping and arm-locking with old men decked out in kilts ended up being the highlight of the night. I’m sure this doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a decent start to my new bold self.

To be independent
In London I have learned to be independent. I mistakenly took my roommate’s passport to the airport (when we were flying to Paris) and was faced with the quandary of me getting myself back on the correct shuttle, platform, train and tube line home. Somehow I managed to make it back to Regents College, with a few wrong turns and a little guidance from this cute, older woman. I was flustered and upset I missed my flight, but in a way relieved that I had actually made it home.

To appreciate
All in all, I have learned to appreciate. London is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and surpassed any of the expectations I had for it. There is so much history, and every English person is proud to be one. Oddly enough, I have also learned to appreciate my parents more. They were the ones who agreed to this adventure in the first place. They were the ones who said, “Maddie, go have the time of your life.” Without my parents’ support, I would not have experienced or learned what I did. I did have the time of my life in London and managed to actually study while abroad too. I learned how to properly drink tea and how often to carry an umbrella. I learned how to handle out of control Spaniards and Italians and the necessity of wearing flat shoes. I learned there’s never such a thing as too much diet coke, but there is such a thing as too much refectory food.

Looking back on this whole experience, frankly I am surprised. I am surprised by how brave I’ve been. I’m surprised by the food I ended up liking and the music I am now obsessed with (Scottish Ceildh). I’m surprised that I handled five weeks of rain and survived not having air conditioning. I’m surprised I was able to handle being fully on my own and loving it. The bottom line is -I am proud of myself. I will never forget my summer of 2007 in London and the weekend adventures that felt like dreams…