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Bruin abroad: expectations vs. reality

There’s an artfully-crafted scene in the movie (500) Days of Summer which compares main character Tom’s expectations about a meeting with his lost love, Summer (she’s a jerkface, sorry Tom) versus how it actually ends up. The two scenes are placed side-by-side on the screen and run simultaneously. Basically, it’s cinematic genius and yes, this is my favorite movie ever.


I love how the filmmakers decided to illustrate this concept, this idea of expectations versus reality. How often this is the case for our own lives, where we build up something in our heads and then are vastly disappointed when our thoughts don’t come to fruition!

I’ve been guilty of this plenty of times, as I’m sure we all have. So what then? Do we simply rid ourselves from expectations about anything?

As some may know, I’ll be studying abroad this semester in London. I’ve found that my departure date of this upcoming Tuesday has come upon me a lot quicker than I anticipated, and so now I find myself with four days left in America and absolutely no packing completed whatsoever (woops).

When I think of London – and Europe in general – I think of it in a romantic, literary sense, a place where forgotten stories and bygone moments whisper around every corner. I picture myself reading poignant British literature in a hidden café, sipping some warm drink as people bundled in dark coats and thick scarves traipse past the storefront window.

Basically, my imaginings of London and Europe are those of art and whimsy, and I have somehow come to believe that my time there will indeed equate to my mind’s images.

Of course, we generally know how expectations turn out, or shall I say don’tturn out. London is a modern, internationally-renowned city, not a caricature from a Dickens’ novel. My romantic idea of London may very well be a fanciful notion with no base in reality. (Disclaimer: I’ve been to London for two days previously, so yes, I have seen the city before).

But I suppose expectations are what create anticipation, and aren’t eager anticipation and wishful imaginings half the fun of any adventure?

So perhaps I will indeed find myself sipping warm tea in an old café engrossed in a life-changing British novel, and not just in a corner Starbucks drinking hot chocolate and reading Harry Potter for the millionth time.

(Though I wouldn’t be surprised with either scenario, and of course Harry could easily be classified as a life-changing novel.)

So here’s to new journeys! May my European expectations marry reality to form an adventurous union!

Staff writer Ally Willis will be spending the spring semester in London. Occasionally we here at the Vision will pull blog posts about her experiences and thoughts while abroad to showcase on the site. While we may only post a fraction of her actually stories, Willis will be sharing her full experience on her personal blog

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