I can barely wrap my head around the fact that I am about to finish my first school year in London. So much has changed since I got off that plane on September first.
As the seasons changed, I watched with awe how the leaves lit the city on fire taking my heart with them and igniting a deep passion and new-found love for England.
Then the leaves fell – sometimes right onto my shoulders and in my hair – as I walked through my favorite parks. I became familiar with the city and had my first bitter taste of city life.
I was surprised at myself and my ability to endure hardships, I could even muster a smile and bear them well. The trees were stripped bare to the grey bark that was once sheltered by beautifully colored leaves. I felt as vulnerable as those naked trees that stood around the city and just like those trees, my feet were firmly planted. No amount of hardships could sway my faith and no amount of hurt could take away my hope that there were brighter days ahead.
When the plane landed in St. George, Utah, I excitedly ran into the arms of my awaiting parents. I was enveloped in feelings of safety – the kind only good parents can create – and my heart settled into a slow rhythm of comfort. For three wonderful weeks I was able to spend time with my entire family and celebrate the wondrous birth of the Savior.
I thought I would feel ready to leave St. George after three weeks at home but I wasn’t. Hesitantly, I said goodbye to my family and returned to the city that I love.
The sky seemed grayer. My dorm room seemed cold and empty. I couldn’t remember how to be happy when I was so far from home. By divine intervention and tender mercies, I was given the opportunity to live in my first flat with three amazing friends.
The fortress of dark, winter, clouds soon was lifted. The days got a bit warmer and the flowers sprang up. Yellow tulips grew like testaments of hope in the park across the street from my flat. I could see them from the kitchen window and I would often reflect on my blessings as they shined like happy beacons right into my home.
My friendships and bonds here in London grew stronger. I had new experiences, new pains, and new-found happiness. The refuge of the temple has been like a lighthouse on a stormy sea. I attend The House of the Lord as often as I can and miss it when I am away.
I don’t believe in fairy tales; however, a small part of me romanticized the idea of moving to England. Of course we like to believe that only good will come from good decisions but the stumbling blocks and set-backs that plagued me in the past soon found their way to London. For the first time, I took a hard look at these mountains I was being asked to climb and didn’t run away from them. I pushed forward, sometimes with faith and other times out of habit, and learned how to endure better.
London didn’t solve my problems, it wasn’t always easy but it was all worth it. Every bump in the road, every deception, every friendship, every blessing was completely worth it. We value what we work for and I worked hard on my continual happiness. I had to work on being happy even when I was frustrated with my new uni. I had to work on being happy even when I felt deceived. I worked on being happy when I felt like I hadn’t seen the sun in months. Maybe there were a few bad days – Ok, I had a few bad weeks – but I tried! I tried really hard to cultivate the ability to be continually happy. While it is something that will take practice and patience, I am trying my hardest and I can honestly say I am showered with blessings. I am safe. I have wonderful friends. I am doing well in my classes. My future looks bright. And for that, I am happy.