When I first moved to England for a study abroad program in 2013, I had no idea that this is where I would find my heart. I thought I’d signed up for a year of reading Shakespeare aloud in dusty classrooms, slathering scones with clotted cream, and gazing out rain pattered windows. While I got all that, something else happened – I fell in love. I’m not just talking about my (now) long distance British boyfriend, I’m talking about the place itself. It’s hard to describe, but I feel like my truest self when I’m in the UK, despite its foibles (and how drastically an American accent tends to stick out).
So I made the big decision to move back to England after graduating university, and overall I’ve spent four years living in this country my heart loves so well – both times along the southwest coast in Devon.
Of course my relationship with the UK changed as I grew older, the rose-tinted glasses coming off as they tend to do when you really get to know anyone, or anywhere. And while I now realize the UK is both more, and less, than my childhood storybooks led me to believe, perhaps its imperfections are what make it feel even more like home.
Even though I moved away in 2018, I still return to the UK multiple times a year, and it’s one of my favorite places to share stories about here on Endless Distances.
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
SO YOU’RE CONSIDERING
TRAVELING TO THE UNITED KINGDOM?
A redeye flight to Heathrow, pink sunrise over London’s skyline, and disembarking into those sterile airport hallways: this is one of my most belovedly familiar travel experiences.
Chances are your UK adventure will start off in London – a city I recommend you learn to love by wandering its winding streets. Be sure to try the freshest oysters at Borough Market, and walk along Southbank to The Globe (where you can stand as a groundling for a Shakespearean play). I have so many London tips and unusual things to do and see in this city – but my best tip of all is to get out. You heard me right.
Hop on any train from Paddington because the best part of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland cannot be found in a city: it’s the rolling farmland, the heath, the coastline, and the stony beaches. Me? I’m partial to the southwest, particularly any adventure to be found in Dorset, Devon, or Cornwall, after spending four years living down there. Somerset and the Lake District have a bit of my heart as well. And wherever you go, have a scone for me (cream first, then jam, please).