My Fulbright program is for six months – I arrived on January 3 and will be here until July 2. The first two and a half months I came over by myself, lodging in a terraced house in North Kensington with a lovely family who were welcoming and warm. Their hospitality was very gracious and I enjoyed my time with them immensely. I was welcomed at dinners and other events, joined them for Sunday evening movies, and was brought along to a number of gatherings in and around Notting Hill I will forever remember. Although all of this was fun, it was not as great as it could have been – I missed my family back home.
On March 19th my wife and three kids arrived at Heathrow Airport, tired, jetlagged, and a little apprehensive about the experience of living in England for three and a half months. As a month has passed since they got here, I figured now was as a good a time as ever to blog about how much we have enjoyed our time together. The Fulbright experience is incredible in its own right, but to be able to share it with family is priceless and something I will forever cherish.
We live in a lovely home (with a name rather than number which is fun), in a beautiful village, outside of a nice-sized town, in the county immediately north of London. Officially stated, we live in Wyndhurst, Piccotts End, Hemel Hempstead, Borough of Dacorum, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Our decision to live here was initiated at first by necessity – London is incredibly expensive and the cost of maintaining a home for five people would have been more than challenging. Quiet and peaceful, we have since fallen in love with the English countryside and the serene life it offers. With only a thirty-minute train ride on the London Midland back into the city (or a 45 minute Overground ride when we are a bit more leisurely), we truly are experiencing the best of both worlds in terms of what England has to offer.
As London is where I am working at both the IOE and Convent School, and where I was living prior to their arrival, experiencing it with family has been very fun. There is always something to do in London and we have been enchanted by the storied past that surrounds us. From visiting Parliament Square after the recent tragic happenings to picnicking in St. James’ Park, from Buckingham Palace to the Horse Guard Parade Grounds, we are truly blessed to experience the city at this time. From strolling through Portobello Market with tens of thousands of others to meeting Fulbright friends at the historic Covent Garden, from the British Museum to the National Portrait Gallery, from seeing Wicked in the Victoria Apollo to seeing Phantom of the Opera in Her Majesty’s Theater, we are privileged beyond belief. And that is just our London adventures.
Out in the village we are privy to a different sort of amazingness, the serenity of the English countryside which I must admit, I am entranced by. From St. Mary’s Church which has been a place of worship for the past 800 years to the Bury House chartered by the Tudors and accompanying gardens (both of which are less than a mile from where we live), from the cobble stone streets of Olde Town lined with antique shops and public houses to the public pathways through the greenest fields I have ever seen, we are immersed in a way of life unfamiliar yet intoxicating. Although there are certain things we each miss about home, we are enjoying this experience very much. With a little over two months left in my program here, I can’t imagine everything we will get to do both here and in London.
Being at UCL-IOE and spending time at the Convent School in Harlesden have been incredible personal and professional opportunities I will likely never be able to replicate. Had they been the only things I did while here I still would have come away from the Fulbright experience a better person and educator than I was going into it. To be able to share the time with family is the icing on the cake, and for that I am eternally grateful to the Fulbright program for this opportunity. For anyone considering applying for the DAT grant, consider bringing your family along and finding a way to make it work. It will definitely enhance the experience and you will not regret it.
Until next time, Cheers.