As the opening chords of the infamous Olympic theme song rang out in my apartment living room, my heart stopped for just a second.
A huge fan of the Olympics, I was even more invested this summer as the 30th Olympiad is hosted by a city I lived in (and fell in love with!) during my five months of studying abroad: London.
Between queuing for the tube, drinking tea, perfecting my British accent, and stalking Prince Harry, I had a chance to visit the Olympic sites in East London for a class walking tour while living in London (I actually attended class every now and then as well.)
What you see of Olympic Park on TV now is not what I experienced mid-March. In the midst of construction, the Park did not look near ready for the billions of viewers and millions of attendants it would be consumed by in just four months. Yet, as evident from the spectacular Opening Ceremony, the British did what I learned they do best: pulled it together to create a stunning and memorable–and most watched–performance showcasing British history, talent, and culture.
The country as a whole may have been extremely proud and excited to host the Olympics, but I learned many Londoners dreaded the 3+ hour tube delays, tourist overload, and chaos it would bring. My stereotypically British professor liked to complain, “I can’t wait for July 27th so I can get out of the horrid mess this city will become and enjoy two weeks of vacation.”
For those who stuck around their homeland for the spectacle, I have to wonder if their minds have changed. Now that the Olympics are really happening and the people there get to live and breathe the Olympic spirit during these 17 days, I know I would give anything for a chance to return to magnificent London.
Have you ever been to the Olympic games? What’s your favorite Olympic sport to watch?