Today, two years ago I began a wonderful journey.

cheveningiconExactly today, two years ago began a journey that I won’t forget.  I was off to another country as a recipient of a prestigious scholarship – the British Chevening Scholarship.  The days before I left, I remember I didn’t do much.  I mostly stayed at home.  It was a Monday then and the day before was a Sunday.  On Sunday’s I had a usual routine – breakfast at home, Mass at EDSA Shrine then lunch at Robinsons Galleria.  I don’t remember much but I’m sure I did last minute shopping.

Summer Lecciones Hermeno

Baby Summer was just 9 days old when I left!

Three special birthdays just passed in the previous week or so – Baby Summer (pictured left) was born September 3, I was so fortunate to have still been in the Philippines then.  September 5 is my most beloved grandmother Rose’s birthday.  September 8 is Mary’s birthday.  It was an auspicious week and I felt very excited to travel to the United Kingdom to learn  of things the world has to offer and enjoy a foreign land.

I remember fondly how I cleaned my room the week before and then tried to fit what I could of a year’s worth of things I might need in two bags. But I managed to do it.  That Monday my whole family was there to send me off.  My flight was at night.  I remember how excited, thrilled, and scared I was of the prospect of being alone in another country I’ve never been to.  In fact I haven’t ever been to Europe before.  It’s a good thing I love history and geography (and play lots of Europa Universalis haha) and so in my mind I already had a picture of how things looked like, how things worked, spatially where things were, and also culturally as well.  I made tons of preparations – I’m very anal like that.  But still there were butterflies in my stomach.

Two luggage for a year!

I remember I kept telling myself that this would be an absolutely thrilling adventure to learn and grow – and I wasn’t wrong.  It would be an amazing year of my life.  I had three luggage with me – a check in and a carry on and a laptop bag which doubled as a bag for everything else (this had a separate weight limit from the carry on, 5lbs I think, but at the airport I was told my laptop bag was 12lbs so I carried everything else in my jacket and coupled with a lot of pleading I was left through!).

The last time I lived abroad was when I was two years old, we stayed for about 5 years in Maryland, USA.  I was thrilled I was going to experience living in a developed country again.  Not that I didn’t like my own country but over there Amazon worked, Netflixed worked, public transport worked!

I was going to the UK to study a Master of Science in Practising Sustainable Development at Royal Holloway, University of London.  At first people asked me why I wasn’t going to Cambridge or Oxford or a more known school – this whole scholarship thing and studying abroad was really a last minute thing for me.  I had already enrolled for my second year at SURP and was feeling quite restricted – I needed to be able to think more and ask more and know more, I basically got the highest grade possible for my first year at SURP – I wanted more.

Lucas was asleep when I left!
Lucas was asleep when I left!

Among all scholarships I looked through, the British Chevening Scholarship was the most enticing – it was not just for brilliant people but for people who wanted to make a difference through leadership.  Something that I liked, and of course London was absolutely a place I wanted to visit, haha!  Well back to this whole thing being a last minute thing for me – it was by God’s design that by the time I got the scholarship, my first choice school UCL responded that I needed to finish my current masters before taking their program, that left me with not that many school’s to choose from since it was already June!  Long story short I was choosing between 3 universities – Leeds, Bristol, and Royal Holloway.  I chose the nearest to London.  It was a balance between being in the top 10 best geography schools, proximity to London (it was the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics!), and being part of a good network – University of London. So that’s that!

At the airport, NAIA 1, it was terrible in the sense that it was not efficient anymore, not enough food to choose from, places to sit, and the place looked old.  Maybe 30 years ago it would have looked awesome but now man its not good at all.  Terrible utility despite me being amused at the architecture of the era.


Waiting at the gate.

Waiting at the gate.

I look like Harry Potter.

That’s me on the right about to leave…. I had a gajillion butterflies in my stomach. 🙂 And I had a lot of things in my jackets (I was wearing two jackets so hot!)

When the airplane I was to take taxied and was at our gate, I felt exhilarated.  I stood up and entered the plane, it had that smell of plastic and old air mixed with new air.  I was looking forward to watching movies and being served food – my adventure was beginning!



I sat down buckled up and I remembered the image that was most special for me that day (and I posted on FB) – a picture of me and family right before I left. §

What a day.

What a day.

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