A Great British June – 3

Editor’s note: I am spending most of June 2024 in Great Britain and when possible, I’ll journal by hand and some of that journaling will be transferred here, with minimal edits.


Time has passed. Friends have come and gone. I have arrived in Leamington Spa, near Warwick. I arrived via train today at 4PM and “checked in” to my friend’s rental house.

I’m not going to write chronologically. Instead, I’m going to write about what comes to mind, in a thematic fashion. I have ideas in my head I would like to give time to express. First, I’m grateful to my friends — those who make time to meet me and those who host me. I hope to return them the favor in the future. There’s this quote that featured in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This was China’s consequential and choreographed greeting to the world.1In my opinion the best Olympic opening ceremony. Difficult to imagine what could beat it. There was a Confucian quote performed in that opening ceremony that loosely translates into “to have friends come from afar is happiness, is it not?”2I had to search this up. And the specific segment of the opening ceremony can be found here. I hope my friends have experienced that feeling. Confucius may have left a gap here, so let me add to his wisdom: to travel far and visit friends is happiness too, is it not?

At Sheffield, I was given the Shangri-La experience. My friend walked around with me, hiked with me, and let me live a day in his life. I met friends from two of his different groups, ate with them, drank with them, and even played badminton with them. One group did not speak English between themselves, so I couldn’t understand what they were talking about, but that wasn’t a bother. I had a drink from Spoons to accompany me and perhaps it gave my mind time to wander — as it is doing now.

Before matriculating into SMU in 2021, I had went through the whole shebang of UK university applications. Near the end of that process, I had seriously considered the University of Bristol and Durham University for law. In the end, I had accepted Bristol. I joined the Facebook and Whatsapp groups in preparation for the upcoming school year. There were those spammy ads for essay help (the unethical types) and fresher week events. But around that time, I had also reapplied for SMU law. When I got the SMU offer, I knew instinctively that I would be picking SMU but still I took a few days to think about it. I knew there would be tradeoffs. But after spending time in London and Sheffield now, I have naturally given more thought on what would have happened if I had clicked a different button on a website. I would be graduating from Bristol this July and perhaps I would try to get qualified to practice in the UK as a solicitor. I would have a different set of friends, a different past of memories, and embarked on a different career trajectory. And what of the smaller differences?

I had caught Nicholas, my friend in Sheffield, at a time when most of his friends were starting to go their own ways. They were starting to scatter around England for their junior doctor roles at different NHS hospitals. And Nicholas was also going to move out of Sheffield after his graduation in July. That also made me ponder about how Nicholas and our friend group had gone our own ways in 2018. There wasn’t anything tragic that happened — we had graduated from high school. The Wait But Why article had resurfaced in my mind.3Titled The Tail End and if you use Chrome, it’s found in this specific section. Otherwise search up “the same often goes for old friends”. I thought about how Nicholas and I had already spent more than 90% or even 95% of the time we will ever spend together for the rest of our lives. Without realizing it, we had spent that 90% in the three years at high school. Back then, we certainly saw each other every school week, if not every school day. We cracked countless jokes (and most of the time, laughed afterwards), we helped each other in our studies, and without much fanfare, we passed the time together — in the canteen, in classrooms, in the study areas, at the basketball court, in malls, and at the bus stops.

The hike that I did with Nicholas on Sunday June 9, 2024 at the Peak District had me think back to the time when we went in a school trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2016. That was eight years ago! Now it’s 2024 and we’re in central England, experiencing classic English weather,4See the photos I shared below for evidence of this. walking around the Kinder area of Peak District. As I told Nicholas one night, the days may have been long, but the years were short.

Who knows when I’ll get to do that again with Nicholas. Who knows when I’ll be in Sheffield again.5When I get asked about my travel plans in England, and answer “Sheffield, Warwick, then Dundee,” they often ask the followup question of why these places? Suggesting that these are rather random spots. Which gets at the point that if I didn’t have friends here, I probably would not visit this place again. Could this be my last time here?

On that note, I probably have more to write about, but I also have things to see and do here in Leamington Spa, so I shall move on. Maybe I’ll top up a bit more later today — I have more to say about Sheffield and my time there.6I did not top up by writing more that night. But I also have what looks like a long night ahead.

Written at 9:05PM on June 12, 2024.

Photos

Click on the photos to enlarge them. Chronologically ordered.


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First published: June 14, 2024
Last updated:

Footnotes
  • 1
    In my opinion the best Olympic opening ceremony. Difficult to imagine what could beat it.
  • 2
    I had to search this up. And the specific segment of the opening ceremony can be found here.
  • 3
    Titled The Tail End and if you use Chrome, it’s found in this specific section. Otherwise search up “the same often goes for old friends”.
  • 4
    See the photos I shared below for evidence of this.
  • 5
    When I get asked about my travel plans in England, and answer “Sheffield, Warwick, then Dundee,” they often ask the followup question of why these places? Suggesting that these are rather random spots. Which gets at the point that if I didn’t have friends here, I probably would not visit this place again.
  • 6
    I did not top up by writing more that night.