In February when I received my acceptance email, or rather March when I accepted my offered place, I took one gigantic leap of faith: I committed to attending a university that I had never toured before. Sure, to others this might not sound too gutsy or risky, but at my high school I must have heard 50 lectures from teachers about students who decided to attend universities they had never seen before. None of these stories ever ended well. One of them concluded with said student driving up to the Northeast to move into her dorm and promptly turning the car right around and driving all the way back home as soon as she saw the campus. I dreaded this outcome for myself. I assumed it would never happen, but that could have very well been my own wishful thinking. Nevertheless, after pulling a near all-nighter on a red-eye flight into Heathrow, I was looking forward to my campus tour later that afternoon.
A funny thing happens when you take huge gambles in life, either they crash and burn or they work out more splendidly than you could have ever imagined. Thankfully, my situation worked out far better than I could have ever thought. It may have been in part that I toured the university with my boyfriend or perhaps that it was a perfect British rainy day (the exact type of weather that I am so looking forward to), but it is also possible that it was sheer relief. I remember going to interview at William & Mary and Agnes Scott College, and in both of those situations I tried to imagine myself on their campuses. I pictured myself trudging to class across the quad on a chilly Virginia day or walking through artsy downtown Decatur to grab a cup of coffee before my next art history lecture. Yes, I had been to London before so I did have some idea of whether or not I liked the city in general , but I had a much more difficult time imagining myself going to university there. That being said, it was difficult to be realistically excited. Do not misunderstand me, I was thrilled to get the unexpected acceptance and I was beyond excited at the prospect of moving to Europe (yes, I know that the label may seem a bit more complicated with the whole EU Referendum thing). I spent days reading British literature and studying maps of the continent and the island. Despite whatever efforts I made before, nothing compared to finally walking though the entrance of the school and being on the physical campus.
Because I could not imagine myself there as well as other colleges and universities I had toured over the course of my senior year, I did not know what to expect when I walked onto the campus. The university on the whole is large, but my department/major is relatively small. The campus that I will be studying at felt cozy and comfortable, and welcoming as well. The cherry on top of the cake was the posters advertising free unlimited tea from a cafe on campus. With the conclusion of a 45 minutes at-most tour, everything finally seemed to be falling into place. Immediately after successfully touring the campus (and discovering that there is a gorgeous bookstore and independent coffee shop right next door… dangerous things for me indeed) we stopped into a cologne and perfume store on the walk back to the nearest tube station. The worker commented on the bag I was carrying with the school logo on it, and serendipitously enough she had just finished her studies at the university a matter of weeks ago. To make things even better, she had studied in the exact same program! I was just about floored with the information especially since my major is tiny, and if I had needed any signs or further reassurance that I had finally found the perfect place for my future studies this would have been the perfect thing. She also informed me that if I chose to specialize in art and archaeology (my actually degree is in ancient history), which is most definitely the plan for me, I would find myself at the British Museum at least on a weekly basis.
So essentially, I will be living my dream. While I may have been a little late touring the school, I am so incredibly thankful to everyone who encouraged me to take a little leap of faith and commit. I can already tell that it was a wonderful decision, but I suppose I will have to wait until September to really know. Cheers!