The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Across the Pond

When words collide in London
Photo by Maggie O’Brien
Across the Pond visual made by Maggie O’Brien.

In order to study abroad at UW-Eau Claire, you are required to take a one-credit course that serves to prepare you for the life-changing experience that is studying in a different country. 

During this course, my fellow students who chose to study at the University of Winchester and I were informed that the reading load in England may be a bit different than what we’re used to at home. As an English major, this warning rings especially true. 

Upon receiving the list of texts I need to procure for the various English literature classes I’m taking in Winchester, I realized I had to buy more books for this single semester in England than the three semesters I’ve studied at UWEC combined (16, to be exact).

I have previously been very outspoken on how much I adore ThriftBooks for providing accessible prices and showing dedicated efforts to environmentalism. It’s normally my go-to for getting my hands on reasonably priced books.

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But in England, I wasn’t immediately sure where to turn to purchase my class texts. After five minutes of research, I discovered Wob, or, World of Books, which is essentially the UK’s version of ThriftBooks. I was delighted by this discovery and promptly ordered the texts to my flat.

At some point, the towering stack of books became a calendar of sorts, indicating upcoming events and showing the passage of time with the shift of each book’s position. 

With my reading schedules loosely memorized, I began to associate certain titles with coinciding dates to look forward to, such as the promise of spring break on April 1.

This week, along with returning “Northanger Abbey,” “Giovanni’s Room” and “Home Fire” to my bookshelf, my best friend Jayden arrived in London. 

After countless letters and phone calls dedicated to gushing over our excitement to explore a new country together, it was incredibly exciting to show her around the country and city I’ve grown ever so fond of.

One of the many things Jayden and I have in common is our horrible luck, so it came as no surprise when her flight got delayed twice, pushing her original Saturday morning arrival time back a day.

Having booked a hotel and reserved a seat on a bus headed to London, I decided to take on the city without Jayden by my side. 

After checking into the hotel, I had a delightful day of solo travel in England, which mainly consisted of perusing the breathtaking Tate Modern

The next day, Jayden landed safely and we reunited at the London Heathrow Airport a day later than planned, but with no lack of enthusiasm.

Some highlights of our time in London included checking out the Hello Kitty cafe at Somerset House, viewing a selection of Van Gogh and Monet’s art in the English National Gallery and crossing the iconic zebra crosswalk on Abbey Road.

After a weekend full of exploring the city, we took the train back to Winchester on Monday night. 

Throughout the week, I introduced Jayden to my friends I am studying abroad with, showed her the historic Winchester Cathedral and City Mill along the River Itchen and took her to a few of the local shops and cafes Winchester is home to. 

The six days we spent together passed so swiftly they felt more akin to six hours, but we managed to cram each minute with laughter and joy. 

It’s quite difficult to illustrate how special it was to experience England with a friend I’ve known since first grade in simple words, but my journal and camera hold some of the sentiments that words can’t communicate, and I’m grateful to have these accounts to cherish and revisit in the future.

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

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