May 19, 2014
Rising senior Ashley Oswald of the Vanderbilt women's soccer team is in London studying abroad through Vanderbilt's Maymester program offered by Vanderbilt's Global Education Office. Oswald arrived in London on May 8 and will be blogging on vucommodores.com about her trip.
After a nine-hour flight from Miami International Airport, I finally touched down in Heathrow London to start my Maymester abroad in Great Britain. Traveling through the underground tube station, a black taxicab, and a double decker red bus, my first day already felt so British, not to mention I walked past Duchess Kate Middleton and Prince William’s Kensington Palace on my way to dinner.
As a rising senior entering my last season of collegiate soccer, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to study abroad in the beautiful city of London, England. Among 16 students enrolled in the Economics War and Conflict course, I’ve enjoyed a memorable week thus far. A political science class with fellow student-athletes Chrissy Oberg (swimming, and pictured below in front of the London Bridge) and Chris Martin (football) is also abroad and housed in the same apartment complex. Together, our classes have taken tours through the large city, learning about nearly every street, statue and building.
Iconic pictures that I had seen a ton of times in movies, television shows and magazines were all right before my eyes. How often can you go on a jog and run into Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye? I was in complete shock when I came across the grandeur of Queen Elizabeth’s estate. I couldn’t resist passing one of her red uniformed guards and taking a quick “selfie.” Everything felt so surreal. The history, infrastructure, accents — it was all incredible.
I enjoyed a delightful tea party with the Vanderbilt classes and Vanderbilt alumni who currently reside in London. It was wonderful hearing about their experience at Vanderbilt and also inspiring to see how successful they’ve become since graduating. I toured Westminster and saw extravagantly decorated Parliament rooms. I climbed the spiral staircase of St. Paul’s Cathedral to the very top to enjoy an unbelievable view of the city. I saw the Rosette Stone in the British Museum that holds thousands of artifacts from all over the world. I’ve also been able to watch two theater plays: War Horse and Miss Saigon. Both were great performances, the former about War World I and the latter about Vietnam.
I was even able to have a brief reunion with one of my best friends and teammates Cherrelle Jarrett, who is also abroad studying in Ireland. Although I’ve only been here a little over a week, a felt like such a native as I gave Cherrelle a tour through the same monuments I had just been introduced to. It was only last summer we enjoyed an all-expense-paid trip to Brazil with our entire team, and now, Cherrelle and I were getting more stamps on our passports and enjoying a sunny day in Kensington together.
The chance to study across the world makes me realize how fortunate I am that Vanderbilt has given me this experience. It’s been a week and a half of loving the beautiful city of London. I look forward to the rest of my May filled with more memories. Thank you Vanderbilt Athletics and Vanderbilt Global Education Office for helping me discover this amazing city! I hope to explore more of the country and intend to visit Paris next week!