I Dreamed a Dream…

I was on campus this last weekend, seeing all my friends who I hadn’t seen since December. One of my friends, who studied abroad last year in London, skipped the “hey, how was London?” that most people asked and instead asked “Does it feel like a dream yet?”  The question struck me deep. I had to choke some tears down because she was spot on. That question had articulated what I’ve been feeling the last two weeks since being home. London felt like one crazy awesome, amazing, challenging and life-changing dream. I’ve got nothing to show for it but a few-tshirts, train tickets that are in my purse, my oyster card that i keep out of habit,  and a lot of photos.  Memories from the trip run through my head constantly. They are blurry and details are fuzzy. It’s like waking up from an actual dream. It seems so clear and real in your head, but when you wake up and think about it throughout the day you can barely remember any of it. Psychologists say that when you wake up from a dream you immediately forget like almost half of it. That’s crazy to me. But, It’s true. This dream-like trip is now a blur of castles, cathedral tours, small english towns, tube rides, theater shows, ridiculous british reality tv, class tours, musuems, the coach trip, etc. And coming home has been one big wake up call.

Life in Texas has been a reality check: driving on the right side of the road, the heat, no Digestives at the store, Walmart, living in the suburbs versus Central London,the riots in Baltimore, politics, the 3 months of my friends lives that I missed. Each a reminder that I’m back, awake, in this reality that I spent the last 21 years in. But similar to dreams, throughout my day there are things that remind me of London. I’ll be walking down the street and see a squirrel or a pigeon, and a memory from walking through Hyde Park or the parks near our flats will  come to me out of nowhere. Yesterday, i was walking behind someone and they were smoking and I had huge flashback to the smoky streets of London. A song at a restaurant will take me back to the makeshift dance parties we had in our flat late in the evening. Playing cards with friends now reminds me of playing Dutch Blitz for hours on the coach trip. (because what else could you do in the Lake district?)

So, it might feel like a dream. But obviously I wasn’t asleep the last 3 months. I lost 10 lbs in London and that doesn’t happen by sleeping. That happens by living on the 4th floor, walking EVERYWHERE, and no fast food. Maybe I’m not doomed to forget everything. Even though the memories are not as clear as they once were, they certainly are not gone. And when I think they are, it just takes a little reminder (a song, a smell, a phrase) to rememeber the dream trip that was actually a reality

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London (part 1): Getting there.

I walked past the flyer every day for 3.5 years. I got e-mails about it. I had several friends, even roommates go. But to each of them and to all of it,  I stuck my nose up and said, “Study abroad in London? No thank you.” There were a number of reasons why I didn’t think I wanted to go. First being fear. I was afraid to leave such a comfortable place,  a place where I felt loved and had tons of friends. I was afraid of living in another country because all I’d known my whole life was life in America. I put myself in a box. I saw pictures of the people that went to London and I always thought to myself: “They’re so adventurous. I’m not like that. I’m not like them. I could never do that.”

I was sitting at a computer one day, Spring of 2014,  looking at my degree audit and looking at the flyer for the London Study abroad program that I had nervously picked up. I walked into my professor’s office and uttered the words: “I think I want to go to London next year.” You know how you say something and it feels it wasn’t you who said it, like it was some strange new person you never met? Well, that was my first introduction to the new Marlie. I  got to know her more in London. She spoke up that day. She talked her parents into considering London. She wrote, edited and defended her thesis early so that she could be good to go to London in the Spring of 2015. The other Marlie spent hours googling things like “10 reasons to study abroad” or “what are the best and worst things about london?” She also spent a great deal of time talking with friends who had gone to London, asking them silly questions. Then, Marlie, went to her professor’s office and asked one more question: Is it worth it? Giving up my last semester on campus to go to London? Will I regret it?
To which she responded “I’ve never had a student regret it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

That’s the day that new Marlie became me.

A year later, 3 months in London behind me. I’ve never been more thankful for that day I picked up that flyer I walked past so many times that said “Study abroad in London: Spring 2015.

the last day

We’ve all experienced the “last day,” whether it be a last day at a job, last day of school, last day in the neighborhood you grew up in. I experienced a pretty big ‘last day’ recently. I arrived in Texas on Friday after 3 months of studying abroad in London, England. (I’ll blog about it later.) I knew that I had 3 months and 3 days in London. Near the end of the experience, people began to countdown. 2 weeks left, 11 days, 3 days, 24 hours. When Thursday came, the last full day in London, all of us were so excited to make the most of our last day! We spent days planning, we asked each other what we wanted to do. I went to sleep that Wednesday imagining what the next day held: sunshine, roses, cotton candy machines, everyone skipping joyfully and smiling. In reality, that Thursday was just like the other 80 some odd days in London. The only difference was the knowledge that this was our last day in this city.

This applies to any situation where we know its our “last time.” My last day of high school was the same as the previous four years, writing my last college paper felt just like writing all the other papers I wrote. The last time I rode the tube in London, felt just like all the other times. We expect so much out of our ‘last’ moments that we forget its just another day. I had to readjust my mindset about half way through the day in London, I had to lower my expectations: the last day wasn’t going to solve all my problems  (i got 99 problems and leaving London was one),  the last day was not going to provide ultimate satisfaction (only Christ can do that), and certainly Chris pine was not going to fall out of the sky and propose to me (psst Chris pine! I’m in texas now!!) It was just another 24 hours in London.

I think i’m beating this point to a pulp. Moving on.

So, fellow sentimental beings,  what do we do with our ‘last day?” (Again, i’m not speaking of death here, just the end of careers/experiences/etc.) Exchange that feeling of expectation, that “me, me me” attitude, and turn it into action: be intentional. So this is your last day! what are YOU going to do with it? Don’t wait around for the day to serve you, go serve during the day. Be intentional, be proactive.  Make every moment count. stop counting the moments. I think I got that from a t-shirt or an e-harmony commercial,  or something.  Next time, don’t wait until the end to make it count! Start early, be intentional when you have several weeks left. Shoot, be intentional from the beginning! Because when I really think about it, we don’t really know how much time we have in the grand scheme of things.

So, friend, go make today count.