Reflecting as the Sun is Setting On My First Year in the UK

Published Originally: September 17, 2019
by Malin Von Knorring, ATP Student Ambassador
Studying at: City, University of London

On a weekend trip to Prague, my friends and I waited in line to climb up the Old Town Tower for a panoramic view of the city. After over an hour, we made it out onto the landing of the tower and were surprised to find the sun setting over the city. Completely by accident, we made it just in time to see one of the best sunsets of my life. While we stood over this magical city and admired all the incredible colors of the sky, my friend said something I’ll never forget. In one sentence she summed up my past year of living in the UK: “Trying to describe your experiences abroad is like trying to describe a sunset.”

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this quote and find the analogy incredibly fitting. When describing a sunset to someone who wasn’t there, you can try to explain all the beautiful colors and shapes of the clouds, but there really is no way to put into words the true beauty and all the feelings going through your body while you’re experiencing it. You want to be able to describe the joy, magic and strong desire to hold onto the feeling of that moment. There’s a sense of appreciation and awe, as well as a longing to seek out more experiences just like it. And yes, the photos of the sunset are beautiful, but they don’t really explain that moment and its sentiment. When you show your friends the pictures, they tell you how pretty it is, but you want them to do more than just acknowledge the beauty; you want them to understand how much that moment meant to you, how it stuck with you. It’s beautiful because of the way you felt moved and changed; there’s no way to explain that all in a photo.

However cliché it sounds, living in the UK has changed my life. I have a new appreciation for different cultures and places, and a desire to continue exploring them. I’ve been forced to put myself out there to make new friends and experience a different way of life. I’ve had days where I miss home and days where I never want to leave. My past year has been an intense, overwhelming sunset that I find impossible to fully explain, and it’s just a little taste of all the opportunities out there in the world. I realized I have so much more traveling and exploring to do, which is why I’m so grateful to be staying in the UK for one more year. So while the sun is setting on my first year in the UK, a new year full of possibilities rises!

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