“What I did get to do made all the difference…”

Cassie Hess
Media Ethics in London
Film, Video, and Media Studies major

Having only two weeks to balance between classes and group excursions really only gave me two days of ‘downtime’. Of course as soon as I learned what days we had free I scheduled a day trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter long before I ever boarded a plane. I had officially only been in England for two days before I took both underground and over ground trains, a double-decker bus, and an unexpected forty-five minute walk through the neighborhoods of Watford before I finally found the studios. All of which would have been a bust if I hadn’t stopped into Starbucks to ask for directions before leaving Kensington, since Wi-Fi and the ability to phone a friend were no longer at my finger-tips. Not to mention that the rest of my classmates had all headed to Camden Town for shopping, fancy coconut drinks, and a couple of spontaneous tattoos.

London Pictures!!! 460

Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, London
Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, London

The studios recommend that you allot three hours to make it through the tour. I took six. Being alone, several hours away from anyone who knew how to contact me, and quite literally in the middle of heaven on earth, I took my time and more selfies than I have ever taken in my entire twenty-one years of existence. I laughed, I awed, and I most certainly cried.

Pigeons! Phone Pics Summer 2015 1241

Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It was a day full of ups and downs as I repetitively got lost, and then powering through, found my way. I was determined to navigate this strange city, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t strange at all. Despite the fact that I took more daring risks in my trek across the out skirts of London than I have ever taken before, I never once felt afraid. For the first time in my life I was confident that I could find my way even though I had no clue where I was or where I was going, a surreal feeling, but one that I carry with me today. If I can navigate London, then Graduate school should be a breeze! (Here’s to hoping!)

Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Even though my Harry Potter pilgrimage was by far one of my favorite memories from this trip, I made many others that were just as equally amazing. Whether it was stumbling across some great places to shop that we just don’t have here, throwing caution to the wind and searching for the ever elusive Victoria Secret’s Pink store with a girl from class that I barely knew, finding both the Millennium and Black Friar Bridges and almost missing class as a result, wandering the city alone to take it all in, or getting up early to visit platform 9 3/4; I loved every minute that I was in London. Even though there will never be enough downtime to do all the things that you may want to do while abroad, just take a chance and jump. Plan out the things you know you would never forgive yourself for missing, but with the rest, just see where life takes you. If I hadn’t just gone with the flow I would have never found my Harry Potter rain coat, made a friend for life, realized just how far away the bridges are from St. Paul’s Cathedral, found a seven story toy store with a Build-a-Bear inside, or been surprised when two girls on my trip pooled their money and bought me the hardcover edition of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. They may not all seem like important things, but sometimes it’s the small things, the ones we weren’t expecting to matter that will surprise you in the end. There are a million and one things I never got to do while in London, but what I did get to do made all the difference.

Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo Credit: Cassie Hess, Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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