Teen Ink London Writing Program This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     Last year, I was searching for writing contests to enter as part of a creative-writing class assignment. I happened upon a nonprofit organization called The Young Authors Foundation that publishes a magazine written by and for teens. I had not been browsing their website for long before I happened upon their elite London Writing Program. I filled out an application and asked two teachers for the required recommendations. Telling myself I had no hope of getting in, I promptly forgot about it.

Some time later, I got a phone call from the publisher of the magazine. He talked for a full ten minutes about the great opportunities the program had to offer before I realized I had been accepted. I held the phone at arm’s length to protect him from my squeals. I hadn’t even told my parents I was applying to the program!

Those two weeks were an opportunity to study and learn in London. It was less expensive than doing all the same activities on my own because of traveling in a group, but I still had to pay my way. Imagine my mother’s surprise when I trundled downstairs with the news. She was in shock for some time (“Writing? Calm down, Christine. What does this have to do with London?”), but eventually agreed that I could attend.

I would give anything to do the writing program again. I spent two wonderful weeks in the heart of London with 27 other teen girls and six adult chaperones. We stayed in a University College London residence hall, had classes every morning plus hours of writing time every day, and explored and enjoyed London every afternoon and night. We saw plays, went sightseeing, met authors and royal ushers, and went on private tours of palaces and Parliament. I befriended a group of Scottish students who were also staying in the dorm, and I still get the odd email from two of them. I have, of course, kept in very close touch with the American ladies I traveled with on the program.

I have so many amazing and strange stories that I would not have if not for the program I had the good fortune to discover. Everything seemed to be happening in the United Kingdom while we were there: The G8 Summit was in full swing up in Scotland, Bono was rocking out at the Live8 concert just down the street, London won the 2012 Olympic bid while we walked the city, and the terrorist attacks curtailed our morning classes. We cheered with the Brits when they won the bid and we cried the next day as the city was drowning in a chaos of sirens. And yet, I have never seen a city pull itself together so well as I saw London under apparent siege. It truly was something to be proud of.

As our Scottish chef in the cafeteria said, “Don’t worry, me lassies. London will still be a beautiful city when this mess blows over.” He was right; it still is a beautiful city and I sincerely hope I will be able to return soon.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

Maddie B said...
Oct. 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm
It would be lovley if you could post this link to the program :) 
KayGee said...
Aug. 15, 2011 at 10:52 am
That sounds absolutely fabulous. What an experience!
WindDancer said...
Apr. 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm
Lovely! You are lucky to have such an experience. I'm jealous!
soletmar said...
Jun. 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm
i would love to go. it sounds absolutely amazing!! you dont by any chance have the link do you?
Valkyrie_123 said...
Jun. 15, 2009 at 3:14 am
sounds amazing and what a experience you know
jdenise4life said...
Oct. 14, 2008 at 4:57 am
Amazing to get such a wonderful experience, once in a lifetime. I happen to be in school, living in London still when this happened. London is one unique place, and be happy that you had the opportunity to experience it one-on-one. Until now, they never fail to remember those days, having a 3 minute silence on the London bombing anniversaries.
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