I never thought I'd be going this soon. The whole process happened so quickly, really. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's start at the beginning, yes? I had originally planned on studying abroad in England the spring semester of my junior year. Three hundred sixty-five days from now, for five whole months. But it seems that God has different plans.

As I was attempting to navigate through the UT Study Abroad website in early January for information on different colleges around London, I accidentally stumbled across the Oxford Summer Program page, knowing full well that this was one option that I could rule out for good. I hadn't any interest to apply for this summer program, particularly because of its short one-month duration; I was convinced that 30-something days could never satisfy my longtime desire to explore the ins and outs of such an extraordinary place. Even when my mother encouraged me to look into it—because "a group-organized summer trip would be perfect"—I was adamant about doing nothing of the sort.

Frustrated with the lack of helpful results (and tired of reading about programs that were either too expensive, too far from London, not offering classes for my major, etc...), I prepared to give up on the day's overwhelming search without thinking twice. But as the cursor glided towards the 'back' button on my computer screen, curiosity welled up inside of me and the description of the Oxford trip begged to be skimmed, if nothing more.
July 7 through August 11...gathers students to enjoy life and literature at Oxford University, the oldest English-speaking university in the world...one or two upper-division English classes...enjoy many field trips and theatrical performances...a wonderful balance of academics and fun...a chance to live in an early 17th-century English college in modern-day Oxford...events include Shakespeare performances at the Globe Theatre in London...visits to Bath, Windrush Plaza, and Chatsworth...
And then it struck me. This actually sounded quite perfect. More so than anything I'd already looked into, at least. Why didn't I at least consider this idea, again? Oh yes, too short. But there's so much offered here... Prepaid adventures and group tours, Shakespeare plays and only one to two classes? Okay, rewind. Think about this. Be rational. What if spending one month overseas could prove to be enough for me? Maybe my first trip to Europe should be just that—a trip. A chance to get a brief but invigorating feel for the atmosphere and a remarkable glimpse into everything else. There would be no time to get homesick. And if I love England as much as I hope, can't I always go back someday?

I eventually made the smart decision to apply, regrettably realizing that the chances of my being accepted so late in the game were slim to none. But what the heck. This opportunity seemed too good to pass up. (Why are mothers always right?) As expected, I was put on a wait list as soon as my application was submitted. And so I waited, prayed, waited some more. Until Friday evening, when I opened an email from my advisor saying that several people had dropped out of the program and that I was welcome to attend.

This, friends, might have been one of the brightest and blessed moments of my life thus far. Because it was in those few seconds of reading her delicious words that I saw my far-off dream of traveling to England flash right before my eyes, becoming more tangible and obtainable as I breathed in every last letter of her invitation. Needless to say, my reply was instant.

In less than half a year, I'm going to be in Europe. And not only Europe, but London. (Well, Oxford, technically. Close enough.) Somebody please pinch me.

Photo of the Houses of Parliament in 1934 by HoppĂ©.