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Nyla Wambold:
COLLBREF 2015 Scholarship Recipient
            The summer of 2015 is one I will never forget and I have the College of London/London Bridge Rotary Educational Foundation to thank for the life-changing experience of living and studying in the amazing city of London. I have always had a passion to travel and natural curiosity to experience new cultures but due to the financial limitations, I accepted long ago that it did not seem possible at this time in my life. That being said, when I learned of the incredible scholarship being provided by the COLLBREF, I could not wait to apply.
            When I dropped my application in the mailbox, I did not grasp the great depth to which my life would be changed just a few months down the road. What an indescribable and humbling experience it was to get to live day-to-day life immersed in the culture of a foreign country for a full month, studying at an acclaimed university, and making friends from all over the world. I have never felt more confident that I was exactly where I was supposed to be than the day I stepped off the plane at Heathrow airport.
            My scholarship companions, Emily and Andrew, and I were graciously provided with exceptional accommodation at Marylebone Hall. Living on the 18th story (with a remarkable view), we each had our own rooms with en suite bathrooms. The kitchen we shared quickly became a meet-up spot, place to make plans, and social space. The dormitory was located in a great part of the city—just a short Tube ride could take us to major landmarks, famous streets, busy markets, and beautiful parks. Unlike some of our classmates who had a 30-40 minute commute to the University of Westminster each day, we got to enjoy a 15-minute stroll, full of lovely sights along the way. 
            The University of Westminster International Summer Program was well organized and perfect for students like myself, who sought a well-rounded educational experience. I appreciated that the University staff encouraged us to learn by exploring the city, and therefore chose not overwhelm us with hours of homework. The course I took, Monarchy—A Royal History of London, explored Britain’s eventful past and distinguished leaders. I found my professors to be tremendously knowledgeable in the subject area, answering every question my classmates and I could think of. I also enjoyed their sincere interest in us and in the cultures of our home countries. My most memorable school days were the ones in which we left the classroom to expand our education at notable places such as the National Portrait Gallery, St. James’ Palace, and the Tower of London.
            As a COLLBREF scholarship recipient, I feel so honored to have been given the opportunity to meet and converse with the former Lord Mayor, as well as Mary Ayling, Phil Saunders, and several other kind and helpful individuals during a trip to Guildhall. These prominent members of society were intriguing and very kind. I appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with Emily, Andrew, and I. We were also given the privilege of sitting in on one of the Court of Common Council meetings, where I learned much about the traditions and the workings of the city.
            As many have said before me, it is impossible to find the words to describe this truly amazing and unique time spent abroad. Unlike tourists observing the city for a few days, I was able to dive right into the culture, living as a Londoner, creating lasting friendships, and quickly falling love with my new home. I am glad that I was able to make each and every day a new adventure filled with awe-inspiring sights, learning moments, and deep appreciation. I cannot tell you the amount of times I stopped to think to myself, Is this really my life right now? It was a dream come true.
            The major attractions including the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Kensington Palace, and the side trips made to York, the Cotswolds, Fountains Abbey, Hardwick Hall, Oxford University, Stonehenge, and Bathe were astounding and unbelievable, but I have learned that it is the little aspects of day-to-day life that really shape one’s overall experience. It’s the “way out” and “toilet” signs and the intriguing accents… it’s the conversation made over coffee at small cafes, the jogs through breathtaking parks, and the feeling of pride when I finally knew my way around the Underground with confidence... it’s the new and delicious foods discovered at the Saturday morning market, the abundant amount of Kodak moments, and the bouts of side-aching laughter made with close friends at our go-to pub. These are the meaningful moments that really touched me. I cannot properly express my gratitude to the Lake Havasu London Bridge Rotary Club and all those involved in making this dream of mine a reality. Thank you for the most life-changing experience I have had throughout college and thank you for the lifetime of memories created. Cheers!