Wherever you are, be all there.

Hello all,

What a crazy eleven weeks it has been. The last time I wrote, I was only one week into the craziest adventure of my life- and now, eleven weeks on, I appear to have survived AND (so far) passed my first semester of university life at King’s College London. There is so much to say and reflect on, but above all else I wanted to talk about some of the many things I have learnt in my first three months of central London living.

1) It’s amazing how fast you adapt and start walking at 100 miles an hour. 

The truth is, once you actually know where you are going in this crazy city, it appears that the pace of your walking picks up somewhat. Just last night, whilst back in Plymouth, I found myself marching up a  hill I would usually stroll up slowly, and I wasn’t even out of breath! (shock horror). Of course, once you adopt this London walking pace, people who don’t know where they are going seem to be drawn to you, because you look like you know where you’re going. 2 weeks in, someone asked me for directions, and when I actually had a rough idea where to send them, I felt like a real Londoner for the first time. Needless to say, sometimes it can be quite annoying, and if you really want to avoid this- you adopt a ‘resting bitch face’ whilst walking- which is basically a slang term for looking at people in a way which makes you far from approachable. It works, trust me.

2) It turns out the tubes aren’t even that bad.

Before moving to London, I had little experience of the tubes. One (which i’m pretty sure I mentioned previously), that struck me, was being stuck on the Hammersmith and City line in 30 degree heat on a broken down tube. That wasn’t fun, and it put me off tubes for what I thought would be life. Inevitably, living in London, there wasn’t much chance of me avoiding the tubes, and my oyster card is now my new prized possession. The trick? Follow the signs, and once you’ve done that for a bit you pretty much know where you’re going. Whilst my first rush hour experience on the Northern line is something I would rather forget, my experiences on the tube are now getting increasingly more pleasant. Also, I learnt pretty quickly that living in Elephant and Castle, and at the end of the Bakerloo line, certainly has its perks in rush hour.

3) Theology is the best subject in the world ever…
Well, DUH. Obviously this is entirely down to my own opinion, but on a more serious note, I have enjoyed the first semester of my course way more than I could have possibly imagined. I would be lying if I said this course is not a challenge- in most cases, I am learning entirely new things in every lecture, which definitely makes essay writing a bit of a challenge. BUT, in most cases, I’ve been able to keep my head above water. I would be lying if I said it has all been easy… (note to self; New Testament Greek is bloody HARD), but it has certainly been interesting. Despite how difficult its been, Greek is by far my favourite module. If I actually survive the exam in January, then I will be able to start studying primary texts from the Bible in their original Greek form, which you know, for a Theology nerd is kind of super cool. Watch this space for my Greek progress.

4) London IS the land of opportunities.

After months of tossing and turning and having no clue where I wanted to go to university, I ended up going with London for two key reasons. The first of these was because I wanted to be thrown in at the deep end, completely out of my comfort zone, and the second was because (and I quote my original Facebook status) there are some opportunities that only a city like London can bring. Whilst being able to walk across Waterloo bridge on my way home from lectures every day is one of those perks, I’ve been hugely blessed to be able to work for a charity called ‘Debate Mate’, in my first term, with the work ending in April 2015. Debate Mate is so much more than a catchy name- its a charity doing amazing work in several of the major cities in the UK. As a mentor, my job is to go into schools and teach kids how to debate. Having never debated myself, this has been a bit of a journey and experience, BUT working with the same kids each week and seeing them grow is so rewarding. During the first session, they all put their hand up to say that they were afraid of public speaking- but now, with a couple of weeks until our first competition, they are amazing, and I couldn’t be more proud. For me, working for Debate Mate has been an amazing opportunity that has helped me get into schools, experience teaching first hand, and has confirmed that educating people is something I am hugely passionate about. Debate Mate is also only operating in schools where kids don’t normally get these kinds of opportunities, so giving them these amazing opportunities that they would otherwise go without makes it even more amazing! For the record, if you are reading this and you’re a student in either Birmingham, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham or Bristol, check out their website http://www.debatemate.com to find out how you could be involved next year. I honestly cannot recommend it enough!!

5) In a city like London, community is important. 

One of the great things I have learnt about London, is that, if you’re having a bad day, it is so easy to escape in a place other than your bedroom. In a capital city like London, you can easily get lost for a few hours and have absolutely no chance of running into someone you know. I learnt this the other day when I went shopping alone in Covent Garden- (yeah, I didn’t think I’d ever be doing this either). Whilst this is a great thing about London, I can imagine sometimes it is very easy to become isolated- something which I felt a lot in my first few weeks here when I still had no clue what I was doing. Now, one semester in, i have been blessed with a lovely group of people. Both those I live with, my friends in the building, course friends and of course the Christian Union. Leaving my friends at home behind has been, and continues to be hard- but I learnt that you have to let life go on and move along with it, otherwise you’ll spend all your time wishing you had something you don’t and ruining the opportunities in front of you. If you had told me even a year ago that I would be living in central London and actually managing to get myself around, I would have laughed in your face, and yet here it is, a reality. A strange, exciting, exhausting and beautiful reality. I honestly could not imagine myself now at University anywhere else.

So there you go, some brief reflections on my first term, and to finish here’s a quote that couldn’t possibly be more relevant right now.

Wherever you are, be all there-
Jim Eliot

Merry Christmas all,
Madailein x