I wish I'd written these words from Anna Quindlen's Imagined London, since they fit my feelings about London so perfectly. I loved it before I went there, dreamed about living there for years, and will always remember and treasure the time I was ultimately given to live this dream come true.
Just think. To live in London for 3½ months (rent-free, with a semester-long Oyster card to boot) and get paid for itů.can you think of a sweeter deal?
My semester in London happened because I work at an enlightened university that treats librarians like faculty, for a library director who encouraged me to take on this unconventional semester, and with supportive colleagues who at least pretended not to mind that I was shirking my usual duties for this extended period. I was thus allowed to apply to teach in the London semester study abroad program and I was fortunate enough to be selected as Associate Field Director for the Fall, 2008 semester.
In addition to the London-dreaming I'd been doing almost all my life, I worked seriously toward this opportunity for the last few years, and worked almost constantly for the year before I left in order to prepare for it. My responsibilities while in London included teaching two classes that I had developed (one class meeting each per week plus preparation time and grading papers; the class topics were Sports in the UK and World War II in Britain) and being on call for student emergencies. Especially given the mature, well-behaved, and independent nature of our students almost all of the time, and the congenial and cooperative relationship with my Field Director and his wife, these tasks left me plenty of time for sight-seeing, museum-scouring, traveling and generally loving every minute of the experience.
The photos and recollections on these web pages are selections from the many, many more photos that I took and the many, many more experiences that I had during this magical semester. Rather than repeat some of the stories related in the blog I kept as a diary while I was there, I've linked to appropriate blog posts on the web pages. And rather than load up the pages with all the great pictures my husband and I took during the period, I've selected favorites for the website and put the rest in Flickr sets that are also linked from the pages. If you want to look at all the pictures, or peruse the different categories, here is a link to the main Dream Season Flickr collection.
The vast majority of pages in the website deal with my time in London, but I also did some traveling elsewhere in the U.K. and took two weekend trips to the continent—to Italy and Germany. Pictures from all these trips are included in the website, and there are maps with each that show where the sights we enjoyed are located. (There's also a large-scale map showing all of our travels on the main page.) These maps aren't as detailed, however, or as precise, as are the maps for the London pages, or the "London Rambles" master map (my geographical diary), since I became much more familiar with London's geography than those places I visited only briefly. (Thanks to friend and London guest Paul Gregor for inspiring me to make all the individual maps, and for technical tips on their construction.)
It's this familiarity with London that I most treasure, and that gives me the most happiness and thrills when I'm reminded of it, which happens often...for example, when...
How often is London a part of all the art and literature that we experience! And for me these reminders—of this wonderful city that will always have a special place in my memory and in my heart—have a special poignancy, and will always make me yearn, at least a little bit, for the magical Dream Season that I'm sharing with you here. I hope you enjoy reliving it with me!
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