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A Bruin Abroad: Senior catches Olympic fever

There is nothing I hate more than when a teacher tells a classroom full of new faces, “When I call your name, tell us where you’re from, what your major is, and something fun you did this summer.” We’ve all been there, trying to reach for something more exciting than “I went on a family camping trip” or “I took a summer class.” This fall, I’m actually looking forward to answering.

That’s because in July and August, I studied abroad in London. And if living abroad wasn’t already the chance of a lifetime, I had the chance to experience the city’s Olympic fever up close and personally.

When I wasn’t gallivanting through England, Ireland, Scotland and Paris, I was working at the Team USA Processing Center at Stratford near the Olympic Park. I helped package the uniforms American athletes wore during the opening ceremonies and on the medal stand, as well as anything with a USA or Ralph Lauren logo on it. That said, working for the United States Olympic Committee is a lot like working on Music Row in Nashville.

Members of Team USA are like celebrities, and the staff was told to not ask for autographs or take any pictures as athletes arrived to have their own pictures taken and uniforms fitted. So although I have no pictures to prove it, Venus and Serena Williams are extremely tall, the men’s sailing coach is really nice, and the swag LeBron James and Ryan Lochte were given was packed by yours truly. Also, I’d also like to mention I am now an expert at breaking down Nike shoe boxes.

While many people who knew I was working for the U.S. Olympic Committee thought that job would guarantee me free tickets to Olympic events, that definitely wasn’t the case. I was unable to attend any major events, but I still had a great seat for monumental moments of the 2012 games.

As the torch arrived in London at exactly 20:12 (8:12 p.m.), I was at Tower Bridge watching a Royal Navy helicopter fly over and repel the flame down to the Tower of London. A few days later, I was able to see part of the torch relay as the flame made its way to Olympic Park. Out at Stratford, I got my hands on an Olympic Park ticket, which gave me access inside the park and to see the different venues built for the two-week event. I also climbed up and over the Greenwich Arena where the Olympic gymnastics competition was held through an excursion called “Up at the O2.”

While I may not have had the chance to witness Michael Phelps becoming the world’s greatest Olympian or see Gabby Douglas win gold in the women’s all-around final, I was a thirty minute tube ride from all the action and woke up every day in a city the whole world was watching. I consider that an Olympic win.

Vision multimedia editor Annalise Kraus is a senior journalism major who spent her summer in London.

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