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### Studying Abroad: A Midway Journey

I admire those who are still at USC. When I initially decided to attend college, I was drawn to the sunshine, warmth, and overall SoCal vibe of USC. However, being back in Edinburgh for another semester of studying abroad has been quite a contrast, with the persistent cold weather proving to be a challenge for this born and raised Angeleno. Nevertheless, this experience has highlighted the resilience of life even in sub-zero temperatures.

During winter break, my parents got a glimpse of my life across the pond as we visited relatives in Aberdeen and participated in Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s celebration, in Edinburgh. The Hogmanay festivities were truly captivating, with the city bustling with tourists from around the globe and a myriad of activities taking place.

One memorable event was a concert in the Princes Street Gardens, where my mom and I partook in “Massaoke,” a massive sing-along with the entire crowd, and enjoyed an ABBA tribute band performance. It was fascinating to observe the differences between U.S. and U.K. karaoke, with some songs leaving my mom and me puzzled while the Scots sang with gusto.

Hogmanay holds great significance in Edinburgh. Watching the fireworks illuminate the sky above Edinburgh Castle as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day was a surreal and breathtaking experience. Standing among tens of thousands of strangers, singing “Auld Lang Syne” while witnessing the vibrant fireworks display over a historic castle was a stark contrast to my childhood memories of fireworks at Disneyland.

Subsequently, my parents and I ventured to London, where my dad explored Britain for the first time. Our activities ranged from visiting restaurants featured on my dad’s beloved show, “Somebody Feed Phil,” to queuing in the rain to tour the Sherlock Holmes Museum, a charming Victorian recreation of 221b Baker St. that brought the fictional detective’s world to life.

Witnessing my parents immerse themselves in London life, mastering the Tube system and indulging in scones with clotted cream and jam at GAIL’s Bakery, was a heartwarming experience. Sharing the magic of London with my dad, a city close to my heart, was deeply fulfilling.

After bidding farewell to my parents, I embarked on solo explorations in London, ticking off items from my bucket list. A visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington was a highlight. The museum’s proximity to the Tube station allowed easy access, and I was captivated by its extensive collection of decorative art, particularly the fashion exhibit housed in a circular room showcasing five centuries of fashion history. Another remarkable display was the Raphael Cartoons, intricate practice drawings by Renaissance artist Raphael for tapestries created for the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel under Pope Leo X.

In the vast room displaying the Cartoons, I found myself alone, surrounded by these awe-inspiring works of art. Contemplating the talent and legacy of Raphael, I reflected on the timeless beauty of his creations and the profound connection across centuries that art evokes.