London. A city is also the events it hosts or the feelings it inspires.

I came back to London on August 10, two days before the end of the Olympic Games. Like many others, I had watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics on TV and taken a look at how the athletes were evolving in my favourite sports (fencing, gymnastics and swimming were my favourites this year).

Having spent the whole year up to the Olympics studying in London, I had been on site to witness how the momentum had been building to the opening of the 2012 Games. I could therefore feel or imagine the excitement and reactions of the people inLondon when the Games actually began – even all the way from home. My hunches were confirmed when I came back and saw the commotion at the underground at 11 o’clock in the evening, the excitement on the streets, the groups of tourists finding their way through the city and towards the Olympics sites.

I enjoyed the following weekend best (August 11 – 12), when the touristic centre of London was teeming with people from all the corners of the world, with tourists carrying their backpacks and their maps, looking for and heading towards sightseeing spots and events that only they knew. The queue of people waiting to visit Westminsters tretched all the way to the souvenir shop of the Abbey and my nicest memory of the day comes from the local people who were helping tourists make sense of their maps and find their destinations.

The Olympics finished and now the city is getting ready to welcome the Paralympics. I wanted to know how people think and most of feel about the Paralympics. I asked my friends, spoke to those I shared a seat on the bench while waiting for the bus, and read the Twitter feeds. C. told me that she feels inspired by the athletes who take part in the games and that they make her feel that “the sky is the limit”. M. just shared that she finds the event inspirational, but that compassion would prevent her from watching the games or attending one of the competitions. Others told me that they weren’t following the Games at all. There were also less favourable opinions – some mentioned that the Olympics actually got all the media’s and the tourist’s attention. “No one is watching the Paralympics or the athletes.” They also said that the traffic would not suffer an inch (although apparentlyLondon traffic during the Olympics was not that bad after all.)

I will adopt a pacifying opinion – I longed to be in Londonfor the Olympics and bathe in that enthusiastic and festive atmosphere. I felt it when I came back and on the streets of the city the days that followed. So I look forward to being a part of this city while it hosts the Paralympics and their sports events.

What I most look forward to, however, is learn the stories of the athletes who will be taking part in the Games. Because I know, from the little personal anguish that I have gone through, that it usually takes effort, time, mental and physical struggle to overcome the difficulties that life challenges us with. To accept that things that existed in the past cannot carry on in the future and that you changed.

So I will watch and follow these games and allow myself to be inspired by the stories of their athletes, who had the power to overcome their physical struggles, and come back not only to compete, but perform. I think that we can all learn a lot from them.

And if London was full of excitement throughout the Games, I believe that the sentiments in the city will this time lean towards encouragement. Want to bet?

You can find the schedule for the Paralympics here and follow the Games on:

Facebook – London 2012

Twitter – @London2012

Website – http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/

Author of the article: Irina Gheorghe