chanda: part 1.

it all started with a light fixture.    

chandalier  i decided soon after the turn of the millenium that i wanted to spend the first half of my senior year in college in london, england.  as PBA called it, “the london semester”.  a few of my friends and i all decided at the same time that we wanted to go, and the best part was that we all wanted to go together.  after a summer of trying to save as much money as possible (without spending it all on money belts, specialty cosmetic bags, and “let’s go europe” books), september rolled around and we were on our way.  there were 20 of us, plus a professor and his wife.  we divided into flats (apartments), and the flats divided into rooms. 

that first week is a big blur, but this is what i do remember:  in my room there were 4 of us.  there were 4 beds (covered with the most random bedspreads i’ve ever seen…one with whales, another with flowers, etc.), some other pieces of furniture (a nightstand and 2 wardrobe-type pieces), and a CHANDALIER.  it was the first thing everyone noticed when they walked in the room.  it wasn’t fancy, but it was a chandalier.  in a bedroom.  the first few days/nights we were in london, we were all VERY silly.  i think it was a mix of severe jet-lag, a 5 hour time difference, and pretty much just being giddy because we were actually going to be getting college credit to live in a cool foreign city.  one night, my 3 roommates and i were lying in bed and for some reason i’m glad i can’t remember now, the chandalier became the topic of some really stupid jokes.  i don’t remember what was said (except something about the chandalier incorporated into the national anthem?), but after about 30 mintues of lying in the dark, making chandalier jokes, and laughing until we cried, i think we all knew that the “chanda” would be a major accessory to our london memories. 

during this semester of “school”, we had fridays off and a week break in october.  we all knew we’d be taking many side trips…who could live in london for 3 months and not take advantage of cheap airfare and just being so stinkin’ close to all the places you’d grown up seeing on TV and in books?  my 3 roommates and 2 friends across the hall (TWO people in a room the same size as ours, which had FOUR), decided pretty early on that the 6 of us would do most of our traveling together.  when we had meetings to plan our trips, we’d meet in our room, under the “chanda”.  after a few weeks, we started randomly decorating the chanda and talking about the chanda to the kids in the other flats.  we would talk about a chandalier and we would use feminine pronouns when we did it.  “you should see the chanda today, SHE looks so pretty.”  it’s wierd, i know, but it was funny at the time.  we beat the chanda horse for 3 months. 

somehow, the group of 6 travelers became known as “Chanda”.  i really can’t remember how we started calling ourselves that.  what i do remember is how we bonded as a group.  there’s something about exploring scotland or riding in a venetian gondola with someone that will solidify a friendship for life.  we prayed together if someone was having a hard time, and we sat in “class” together in our pajamas (notice the quotation marks around “class”), but i don’t think that’s where most of the bonding occured.  some of my memories of that semester include amazing seats at “the lion king” and lying on a blanket eating cookies in hyde park, both of those were with my chanda girls. 

 one night in rome, we ate at a sidewalk cafe.  the food was absolutely amazing (pasta and pizza, of course).  halfway through our meal, a girl started singing opera on the sidewalk for tips!!  she was around the corner, but the acoustics between the buildings, bouncing off the cobblestone street were incredible.  the 6 of us looked at each other and didn’t really even know what to say.  it was incredible.  to this day, that meal is probably the coolest of my life.  i think we visited 10 countries together.  we rode in planes, trains, buses, and subways.  we slept in some sketchy hostels, but the gross ones made the nice ones seem even nicer.  when we found a nice one, we would sit around in our underwear and spend most of the night writing postcards and making stupid jokes (half of which were probably about our precious chanda).  when we were somewhere gross (M&J place in rome was absolutely disgusting), we would make jokes about it, figure out ways to make it work (“let’s use our t-shirts for towels” or “here, borrow my shower shoes”), and be glad we were all in it together.

when the semester was at it’s end (and we had all earned straight A’s!!), we were excited to go home, but i think most of us were very sad to leave what had become our home.  we knew when we returned to school, things would be very different.  during second semester, i lived with two of my london girls (who had also been my girls for 3 years before that).  we had fun and, i think, got the most out of that last semester, but it didn’t come close to what we’d had in the fall.  i don’t know that we thought alot about the future of our friendships while we were trying to decide what to do with our lives after graduation, but if we did think about it, i don’t think we could imagine what the lord had in store.   

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2 Comments to “chanda: part 1.”

  1. ok…this makes me want to cry. i can’t wait for part 2 (and 3 and 4 and 5 and 25). i want to print this out and put it on my mirror to remind me to KIT. 🙂 LOVE YOU!!

  2. Okay 2 things:
    We traveled to 13 countries and also, my room was definitely smaller than yours! But, I must say, we did end up with the sweeter set up. But then again, you had the Chanda…so all is fair.

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