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Opinion

Europe trip gives student independence

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September 20, 2007

Originally I wanted to write about my crazy summer job. Working for Residence Life spun my summer sideways, and too many emotions were spilled from that experience. But it’s not summer anymore, and enough has happened in the past weeks that it is vital to my emotional health to express the things racing through my head involving the fall semester.

I am a foreigner now. After a week in Paris with other Wisconsin students, I was pumped to stay in London alone for two months. Paris was beautiful and always a fun time. London has shown me what it is like to be alone and to find a good time amongst yourself.

There were days that I didn’t speak a word for hours because Londoners don’t speak to strangers. From being a suburban girl to a small town girl, I relied on my extroverted personality to make friends. Now, being an international city girl, all of that is thrown out the Tube’s tiny window and is spinning into the windy tunnel. Everyday I strut down the street with my hands in my pockets, portraying a real local attitude. I am actually totally clueless about my whereabouts but still try to keep a positive mood.

Location is key. The current place that I reside in is on the outskirts of the city and is completely dead and depressing. Trash flies up into the air and back down with an angry force at the numerous double-deckers and littering fools.

Being in the heart of the city is a blessing. I have gone to posh nightclubs with caution of club drugs offered and have seen the celebrities posing for cameras. The River Thames is beautiful with its bridges and walkways. The parks, only walking distance from each other, are a close bid to a one-woman sleepover.
Though I still sit in these beautiful parks and bridges alone, I watch couples cuddle and kiss. I watch friends joke and share beers. I sincerely miss my friends and receiving hugs from loved ones. There is nowhere in this city that I can call home. I don’t have my own bed or bedroom to lay naked, cry or exercise in. I own no cell phone to call any friends I might make or the friends I already miss. I only have a pen and paper and one pound to pay for an hour worth of Internet.

Standing strong is necessary to get through the day. I could have done the International Traveling Classroom program to experience Europe, but I need a real experience away from Wisconsin. Now let loose from my comfort zone, I can tell dear Bobby D [Bob Dylan] that I know how it feels to be on my own, to have no direction home.  To be a rolling stone is to be completely free.

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.