I was standing in Victoria Park watching the Opening Ceremony with a mass of people from all over the world, watching the fireworks in the distant sky and singing “Hey Jude,” when it hit me: I am in England—at the Olympics.

This is real life.

And just like anything in life, it isn’t all fun and games.

With the exception of trying to beat jet lag, I have yet to have a full night’s sleep. Between fruit and cider runs to Tesco Express and a morning coffee from Costa or Starbucks, my money seems to just disappear before my eyes. My feet always seem to be dirty, and the rain just doesn’t agree with my canvas shoes.

It doesn’t matter.

We have been in England for just about a week and already this has been a huge and rewarding learning experience in so many ways. Our graphics group has been working so hard, and we are seeing our dedication pay off with published pieces in the Chicago Tribune. As a student journalist, that makes your heart skip a beat.

We began to realize just how big this is and the potential it holds.

Working in the graphics group we have a policy for this whole experience — positivity. It started in the late hours of working in a hot flat for about 14 hours our first day in England. It was one rule, from one member. But now, it has become our group’s policy.

Keep it positive.

One of the first things we learn as designers is Gestalt theory: the whole is greater that the sum of its parts. I say we should apply that to our experience in London. Because no matter how hard it is to find WiFi, and no matter how much your eyes hurt from staring at the screen for too long, it doesn’t matter.

The overall experience is greater than all the little ups and downs.

Just like when I think back on watching the Opening Ceremony at Victoria Park, I won’t dwell on how badly my feet hurt or how I hadn’t had food or water in 14 hours. I will remember connecting with people on a level that transcends language and cultural barriers.

The Olympic Games brings people together, plain and simple. And if that isn’t something to be positive about, I don’t know what is.

Stephanie Meredith |  Designer

@stephcmeredith