Sunday, 3 December 2017

Why I Am In Love With London?

London, throughout the years, has been the setting of many ups-and-downs, achievements, regrets, moments I wish to cherish and moments I wish to forget. Walking through streets of London bring back memories and feelings unlike any other place in the world. How can a city so foreign have such a deep connection to you?

Covent Garden, London (Nov, 2017)

My first experience in London was when I was seven years old. I visited the city with my family after our visit to Paris. We took the TGV from Paris Gard du Nord to London Waterloo station. I can still remember very clearly how we all piled into a black cab and the driver just drove us across the Westminster Bridge towards Big Ben. The neo-gothic building was lit and shined brightly out from the dark cold night. This was my first vivid memory of London.

At the age of nine, I was sent to a British school in Bangkok where I stayed until I left for University. Almost all my education up until my Masters was in the British system. You could say that I know English history better than my own. As a child growing up in a simulated English environment, the culture and mind-set was deeply embedded without much awareness. I have returned to London several times again for family holidays, but when I was 14, the trip was not the same as before.
At the age of 13, I had an opportunity to be an exchange student at one of the oldest boys’ boarding schools in the UK. Yes, an “all boys school,” and I was the only girl. The experience was very enjoyable. The classes, teaching styles and Autumn weather were all new to me, but it was more about the relationship I built with the people there.  One in particular, nicknamed P, was a Thai student who was a year older than myself. When I first met him, I felt he was genuinely different from any ordinary Thai boys I had ever met at the time. He was my biggest crush for a while as he was so talented and athletic, but like most puppy love, it eventually faded with distance and time. With such good memories, P inspired me to come back to London. I knew back then, that one day, I would definitely be back. I tried keeping in touch after I came back to Bangkok while he remained in London. Today, we remain good friends, and I am pretty sure he never knew I had a crush on him (until if he reads this post).
I returned to London once again at the age of 17, I was living in Birmingham at the time when I was pursuing my Bachelors’ degree (BA). My trip to London was a short Bank holiday weekend visit with a couple of my friends from University. We shared a lot of laughs and enjoyed London like a group of 17-year-olds normally would. At 19, when I was doing my BA final project, I was looking for inspiration so I went to London to check out some museums and galleries. Dear friends of mine, Pin and Ant, were kind enough to let me crash at their places for a couple of nights. Ant’s boyfriend went to London School of Economics (LSE) and he would bring his classmates over so that we would all have dinner together. The dynamic in the room intrigued me. These people were so smart, friendly and humane. I thought, there must be something about this University culture. That was the moment when I actually became interested and wanted to know more about what LSE had to offer, but was still not fully committed about applying to LSE for my masters until later.
When I was 20, I met a guy who changed the course of my life, not knowing that he would later shatter my heart into million little pieces. A was British-born Chinese-Malaysian who grew up in East London, and was a mathematics student at Warwick University. “Warwick hottie” was the nickname I gave him when talking to my best friend. Before I met A, I was determined to continue my studies in America because, as I mentioned, I had been in the English education system for the longest time, so I wanted a change. As A and I became closer, my intention to pursue further education in the US waned to an extent. I then started applying to universities in London, and ONLY London, with an exception of applying to Warwick for obvious reasons. Later, I have received offers from all the universities I applied to. After much consideration, I finally picked LSE. A crucial part of my decision was made based on the fact that the course I picked, MSc in Global Media & Communication, was a double degree programme between LSE and USC (University of Southern California in Los Angeles). That was a win-win, as I got to spend my first year in the UK with my boyfriend, while still having the opportunity to study in the US afterward. Dream on girl! Unfortunately, the second week into my move to London, we broke up. It was the worst heartbreak I had ever experienced in my entire life (until today). Everywhere I turned, all the corners and the alleys reminded me of him. London reminded me of him. It was almost winter and a week after that I fell ill with rashes and allergies on top of homesickness and stress from University workload. I cried for weeks.


At age 21, something magical happened again in London. It was 11th November 2011 (11.11.11), I remembered because it was a day before his birthday. R and I started dating. For me, R was a love at first sight. We met a while ago, during a University trip at Cumberland Lodge, not far from London, just before school starts. The moment I heard his voice, a deep powerful voice in an American accent, I turned and there he was, so perfect. He was exactly my type, American-Taiwanese, super handsome, smart, and clearly into Hip-hop (judging from a glimpse of his clothes and hairstyle). We did not talk at all during our stay at the Cumberland Lodge; a) he probably did not notice me or thought I blended in with the other Chinese students, and b) I was still with my then boyfriend A, so I did not want to complicate things. On the way back to London, we sat in the same row on the coach, only the walkway was keeping us apart. I saw him glancing a couple of times but I kept my silence, then he started our very first conversation. We kept talking until we reached LSE. I asked if he wanted to grab some food at Chinatown before going back, he said, “yes,” and there we went.
Weeks went by, we passed each other in classes sometimes but somehow ended up seeing each other at bus stops and/or train stations waiting for our ride home. It turns out we lived in buildings next to each other around Liverpool Street station. That was when we became each other’s best friend, and awhile after I broke up with A, R and I started dating. I was in love with my best friend and we would explore every bits of London together. I was happy, and so was he.

Taken from Millennium Bridge, London (Nov, 2017)

My most recent trip to London was early November 2017, exactly 20 years after my first trip to London, and this time it was utterly nostalgic than I have expected. Having been away from the city for awhile was like taking a step back to understand my connections with the city. I have missed it, so much. London is a globalised city of energy, life and diversity. It is a magnetic force that pulls and connects people from all over the world where discussions often create new culture, a true melting pot. New memories were made during my 11.11.17 visit, an exciting one, like I have never experienced before, but it’s too soon to say. Let’s just say it’s “simple and sophisticated,” and may be in a while I will write about London again. This city really has no limits, for new possibilities to come especially for those who want to live lives with no regrets. But was I in love with the city, or was I in love with people in the city? Why couldn’t I be in love with both? The people come and go, and those who you really care about remain deeply in your heart, but traces of memories always return wondering the streets of London.
London will always hold a special place in my heart.

Pamme. x

Like this story? Read the prequel: "Before London, there was Paris."

No comments

Post a comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig