Eight months since I’ve seen the United States. Eight months since I’ve been physically present with my family, and eight months since I’ve seen most of my friends from before this year.
It’s funny how time works. This has been both the longest and shortest eight months of my life.
It’s Been a Great Ride
Last September, I flew to London to study abroad for the year. To everyone who asked me what I was most excited about, I could only say that I didn’t know. I was excited for the whole thing: the city, the classes, the travel, the personal growth, and the new friends that would become family.
Well, I can say with confidence that each anticipation came to fruition, albeit not in the ways I expected. I just reread my “Setting Sail” blog, and many of my expectations were met or denied or exceeded in the best ways possible. I absolutely love the city of London, although by now I do miss the sunny weather of southern California. I didn’t travel to half the places I mentioned, but traveled to other places that defy even my imagination. In the fall, ended up dropping the journaling class, but I added an immensely enjoyable class on the British monarchy. The fifty or so other students in this house truly have become some of my best friends, friendships that I’m sure will be maintained beyond the confines of college. And the year has been a spiritual journey. My faith has grown and stretched in oft uncomfortable ways, but in ways that have left me a stronger person and a stronger Christian for it.
Thank You, London Program
It has been the best year of my life, and I have a lot of people to thank for that. If I thanked everyone at the lengths that they deserve, we would be here all day. So I’ll try to keep it brief.
To the director and associate director, Carolyn Vos Strache and Jenny Ryan: Thank you for pouring yourselves out to this program. You dedicate so much time and energy to every one of us students, and the amazing experiences that we have enjoyed this year would not have been possible without you.
To the visiting faculty family, Chris and Sandy Stivers: Thank you for being amazing role models, mentors, and friends. Your Christian leadership and friendship has been an enormous blessing to me.
To Ryzard and Aldona: Thank you for tirelessly keeping the house clean and beautiful for all of us. And Ryzard, thank you for the ping-pong matches and coaching.
To James Hicks and Paul Lalor: Thank you for being two of the most influential professors that I have ever had. Dr. Hicks, you inspired me to add a minor in history, and I have greatly enjoyed the three courses I have taken with you. Dr. Lalor, you have transformed the way I view the world. You have taught me how to conduct my own research, draw my own conclusions, and defend them. Thank you both for the enormous impact that you have had on my life.
To Josh: Thank you for continuing to be the best friend that I could ever ask for.
To those students who, in September, were strangers (or acquaintances at best), and are now family: This one’s to everyone in the house, but especially Daniel, Sarah, Annika, Chelsea, Laura, Aubree, Yaqi, and Anne. Thank you for all the memories; you guys are awesome.
The Next Phase
This is a time of transition in my life, in many ways. Earlier this week, I finished the first draft of The Shattered Promise, book 3 of my Eternity Stone trilogy. (This was one of the goals I set at the beginning of the year.) After I get through this semester’s round of finals, I’ll begin outlining my next novel and start the drafting process.
This time next week, I’ll be back in the States. I can’t wait to see my family and all my friends again, but it will take some time to settle back in. I’ve been away for eight months, and it will take some adjusting before my home truly feels like a home again.
So, that said, it is with mixed feelings that I’m announcing that this will be my last post for a while. I want to spend the coming months embracing my family and friends, figuring out my next novel, and working on some other projects.
But don’t worry; I’m not leaving for good. Far from it. I’ll be back later this summer in rare form, with new poems and stories that I have planned but have yet to write. I will also spend some time over the summer redressing my website to make it more user-friendly, especially on mobile devices (any of you who have tried to use it on your phones know that it’s not easy).
So what can you expect from me this summer? First, you can expect an updated and more user-friendly website design. Second, after some time off, expect plenty of new stories and poetry (by August at the latest).
In the meantime, I’ll continue to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram once in a while. If you want updates on my writing projects (or just want to see random thoughts as I have them or quotes as I find them), then follow me on Facebook at Heard Words, Twitter @N8HeardWords, and/or Insta @Nathanheardwords.
I hope you all have a great summer, and I look forward to starting up again later this year!