In ten days, I will at long last embark upon my journey to begin an internship in the United Kingdom. The term "at long last" may seem a bit dramatic, and I imagine some will think cliche, but I am prepared to justify the use of this sappy prepositional phrase.
I suppose the wait really started when I first visited London for New Year's two years ago. It was my first trip to Europe and indeed the first time I left the continent on which I was born. Instantaneously, I swooned for the tiny island that could just about fit snugly within the borders of my home state. Everything was fascinating, from the tube to the toilet. Oh yes, even the toilet. I couldn't stay away from Britain; from then on I just kept coming back. It probably wasn't the food that had me hooked, it certainly wasn't the weather, and I hadn't yet realized the brilliance of the BBC. So maybe it had something to do with a guy.
Through a series of well-timed coincidences and uncomfortable social situations, I had fallen for a local. A trans-Atlantic romance certainly sounds like the stuff of fairytales and steamy paperbacks while you're still together on the same continent. But the reality of jet-lagged visits, timing Skype calls to fit each others' schedules with a five hour time difference, and the ever present visa issue quickly hits you (and your bank account) hard.
So after two years, countless frequent flyer miles, 1 lost passport, and a lot of patience, I will at long last be living in the UK. And I will blog about my experiences and struggles as I settle into a new culture.
To help the assimilation process along, I've comprised a list of 10 British novels, from the contemporary to the classic, that I will read during my first months. In theory, these books will provide a glimpse of English culture and life as perceived by 10 literary artists over two centuries.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (2007)
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
1984 by George Orwell (1949)
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (1945)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1838)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
Naturally, I could think of nowhere better to begin than by finishing the Harry Potter series!
I should note that my journey is far from over and I expect to encounter many more obstacles and visa fiascoes as I transition to an American expat living in Britain. But I haven't given up yet and with only a week and a half of pre-departure planning and packing, the light at the end of the deceivingly long tunnel is brighter than ever!