England and Pretty Things

So this week has mostly been focused on school and trying to be a productive student. Obviously nothing too exciting to report about. But then I remembered a couple weeks ago I took a walk through the Botanical Gardens right across the street from my house! It was absolutely beautiful and the sky was a perfect, England gray. All the flowers and trees were explicitly their own natural color, unaffected by sunlight or luminescent lights. Just completely natural and beautiful. I have included the numerous photos I took of the garden. It took me nearly a whole hour to walk through the garden! I hadn’t realized how big it was or how much there was to see. I now walk through it at least once a week to get some fresh air and destress. All the little purple/white buds growing out of the ground are WILD TULIPS growing. America needs to get its nature in order because wild tulips is officially the prettiest thing I have ever seen. See for yourself. That’s all I really have to say about that so I hope you enjoy the photos! Tomorrow I am going on an organized day trip through a club at my university to Bristol and Bathe! I’m really excited and can’t wait to share my experiences!! Sorry this post was so short. Got to keep it short and sweet to leave you wanting more 😉

Cheers!

Livin’ it up in Liverpool

Hey all! So this past Sunday I went on a journey to Liverpool. I’ll risk embarrassment and admit that I had no idea The Beatles were from there! Only upon arrival and through our tour guide saying we would start at The Beatles statues that I realized what was going on.

Before I start in on the city’s legendary band, driving into Liverpool it felt like an industrial city. There was a lot of graffiti, extremely modern buildings sitting directly next to old church buildings, and loads of construction. All point to signs of a city that wants to stay contemporary and moving in a forward direction. It is also a port city so there was a river that lead out to the English sea. The seagulls throughout the city reminded me of the ocean thus my love and craving to swim in the ocean so I really didn’t mind their presence.

We started our tour on the bus so we drove around the city and occasionally got off the bus for picture opportunities. First we saw some older buildings like an air ventilation building I think they called it but now I’ve forgotten and clearly I should learn to write this stuff down so I can provide you all with accurate information. Anyways, there were some other older buildings, one of which is being turned into a pop music museum. Our tour guide said multiple times that Liverpool is the music city of England so a pop music museum makes sense. We saw The Beatles in statue, all about 7 feet tall or so. The whole city seems to be proud of the band and the fact that they formed and originated in Liverpool because there are different forms of dedication for them everywhere, such as the statues we saw, a few buildings had illustrations of them, and especially Mathew Street. I’ll get to that in a minute. We also drove on and stopped on the Penny Lane that inspired the song for The Beatles. It was just so cool to drive through a city that used to be home to normal people who turned into musical legends. Bizarre and cool. So Mathew Street has more of a outdoor sipping centre feel to it because cars cannot drive down the street for one, and also it is more laid out as cobblestone sidewalks with little space from one shop across the way to the other. There are bars, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and of course, The Cavern. But I’ll get to that in a second. There’s also a bar/pub called The Grapes where John, George, Paul and Ringo would run to for a quick beer in between songs or gigs at The Cavern, which was about fifty feet up the way. So The Cavern is where The Beatles performed 292 times. So only a handful of times clearly. No big deal. Across from The Cavern is a brick wall and nearly every single brick is inscribed with the name of the artist or band who has performed at The Cavern including The Beatles, The Wanted, Arctic Monkeys, Little Stevie Wonder, and so many more it’s absolutely insane. So The Cavern itself is set underground with the walls all made of bricks, a fairly small stage for performances actually, a narrow and long layout eith small tables on the sides and a cleared out space for dancing. I stood not two feet from where the Beatles performed. Um so I feel a little cool I guess. I’ll probably put it on my resume just in case though. Can never be to prepared am I right? So my friends and I hung out there for a bit , listened to live music (they do covers of so many bands and have a Beatles night every Saturday night), admired all the dedications to The Beatles and other bands who have played there, looked at the old merchandise set in cases that they used to sell and basically just basked in the glory of The Beatles. It was really cool. We did eat at a restaurant and that was good but nothing terribly exciting, and walked around the docks and saw some shops. For me the highlight was Mathew Street and The Cavern. The drive there and back took far too long for my taste so we did not get to enjoy more time in Liverpool. I doubt I’ll have a chance to visit there again while I’m here but for any Beatles fan who ever visit England, GO TO LIVERPOOL. I shouldn’t have to tell you twice. You will not regret it. So that is my Liverpool adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog.

Cheers!

 

Taking England by Storm

Long time, no see! It has been a little over a week since my last blog post so there are a few things to catch you up on! Since my last post, I have attended an English football game! I must say, the game was so much fun!! Definitely an experience everyone should try to have when visiting England. Plus, my city’s team won!! 3-1, not too shabby. I have never been to any football games, American or English, above college level so being in the stadium with the roaring crowd, cheering and standing up in exasperation with a referee’s call was so much fun!! There is so much hype at these games. I remember thinking afterwards that I did not hear a lot of the people around me talking. Maybe a comment here or there about a player or referee’s call but otherwise everyone is watching the action with intense focus on the ball’s movements. I even found myself more invested than I ever have been with any sporting event. Ever. I think being in the crowd made a huge difference because you could literally feel the electricity and vibrancy of the fans. Also, these older and more experienced football players had way more cool footwork than I have seen, and they were sliding and doing sick head butts. Action I have not seen in person!! So the football game was super cool and I would definitely go again if I have the money!! We’ll have to see about that. So yeah, English football!! I think I would like to go to a rugby match even though I have no idea what the rules are or why I always see images of men in a giant huddle with each other any time I see pictures of rugby, buuuuuuut I think it would still be a fun time!

Other than the football game, I’ve mostly been hanging out with my housemates, my international students, I attended the cinema, which was about the same pricing if not a dollar or so cheaper than the U.S. and the previews take nearly half an hour. Sidetrack: the previews may be longer before the film starts but all of the British commercials I have seen are so much more emotional and have so much more impact behind their messages. I could watch a mini series of just British commercials and be just as satisfied as I am watching Bambi. No joke. Now back on track. I also celebrated a friends birthday and went to this delicious dessert joint called Heavenly Desserts. I must say my dessert was indeed heavenly that I could not finish it. There were over 70 options of desserts! Insanity! Or ingenious? Both. It has to be both. Someone ordered a cup of hot chocolate and let me try it. Two gulps of that hot chocolate would have given me a heart attack. I kid you not, we all tried each other’s desserts and . . . *cue my insides melting*. That’s all I can really say about that. My mouth is melting just thinking about it so I should move on.

Earlier this week I had my own adventure to Nottingham. For one, I definitely enjoyed having a day to explore by myself, to take in the country and appreciate my surroundings in peace. I went there by train, which was my first train ride ever!! It was not anything super spectacular but a small mark off the bucket list! Once in Nottingham (also, isn’t that just such a cool name for a city?), I went to the City of Caves. For those who don’t know (I was in your boat before this mini tour), there are hundreds of underground caves throughout the whole city of Nottingham! Some of them have been left alone or even undiscovered, others have collapsed, some are used for tours, a couple are owned by the establishments or homes above them and are used personally or for business. Regardless, I thought it was really cool there were so many caves under the city! The one I toured through, and similarly the other caves, were used for secret conspiracy meetings, tannery (leather-making, which was a smelly process as they used urine and poop to soften the leather), housing for the poor, bunkers during World War 1, and now for tourists. Many uses for the caves and an interesting history. From the caves, I toured through the Galleries of Justice Museum, which used to be a prison and also a courthouse. I walked through a Victorian courtroom, a much different set up from American courtrooms, how prisoners/convicts lived and were treated, I learned a four year old boy could legally be arrested often due to pick-pocketing, their ‘exercise’ included walking around a stone yard with black masks over their faces to make them feel a loss of identity while walking around in a circle holding on to a rope. Sounds fun, right? I even saw where men were hung. How lovely that image was. Pictures are included below. Please enjoy. 🙂 From the prison I went to the oldest inn in all of England, ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’. The inn earned this name due to cavalry soldiers ( I believe cavalry, or mercenaries, now I feel bad that I don’t remember) stopping at this inn to rest and refresh their horses and themselves. The inn was cool but they didn’t play any music, but I instead enjoyed the chatter of the people surrounding me and the sound of glasses landing back on the wooden table tops. I enjoyed a Guinness and a plate of fish and chips. Yummy! From the inn, I walked up to the Nottingham Castle! My first castle experience in England. The inn is at the base of the hill that the castle sits upon. There is so much history in that castle. Every single room has been cleared to be used as exhibition rooms. It would have taken me three hours to stop and read about everything I saw in there so I hope that clues you into how much history has been preserved. I also had no idea that Robin Hood was from Nottingham; he lived in Sherwood Forest ( I wish I had the time to visit the forest, I’ve heard good things), which is just on the north edge of the city I believe. So anywhere I walked, not just in the castle but on the streets as well, were plaques or posts with facts or stories about Robin Hood. I’ll admit, I didn’t realise the ‘myth’ of Robin Hood was in fact based on fact. Learn something new everyday am I right? So I spent quite a bit of time in the castle and walking the grounds. Again, pictures included below. I then made my way back home. It was a long but lovely day. It made me excited for the other solo adventures I plan to go on. It was peaceful, relaxing, exciting, and really just helped me clear my head. I highly encourage any and everyone to try taking a small day trip or weekend trip somewhere by themselves. Be safe and do your research of course but take time to yourself. It did me a lot of good. I encourage you to do some good for yourself. I am going on a trip to Liverpool tomorrow hosted by the Exchange program here at Leicester so big group of people! There will be photos and another blog post of the trip later in the week. Enjoy my photos below of the football game, the City of Caves, Galleries of Justice Museum, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, and the Nottingham Castle.

Cheers!

P.S.- the photos have captions, I think you have to click on them to read the caption.

 

Birmingham Booya

This past weekend I visited Birmingham, England with some of my friends, just for the day though. It was extremely fun! We first stopped in this cool vintage store and they had a wonderful selection. So of course I purchased a few items for so cheap! Then from there we ventured through an indoor market with lots of vendors selling fabrics, hats, shoes, purses, toys, accessories, and so on. The market was cool to walk through and hearing all of the British accents. I don’t know if I will ever get over the sound of their accents. We continued our journey to the adjacent church and witnessed some beautifully detailed stain glass windows. All of the churches here are so so so so so old and absolutely beautiful and kept in great condition. It makes me sad that our churches today, especially back in the U.S., look so modern and uncomfortable compared to the old houses of worship I’ve seen in England. But that is simply the way the world works around these parts I suppose. Moving on, we walked through the mall. The malls here I have noticed have many of the same stores at the U.S. such as H&M, GAP, Urban Outfitters, Lush, and the English version of TJ Maxx, which is TK Maxx. Of course England has stores of its own including Primark and other stores that I simply cannot recall at this moment.

We did not stay at the mall long but soon wandered over to the nearby museum, which was simply astounding! There was a particularly excellent and educational room about how involved the Muslim community was with aiding England in the first world war. There were stories about migration and sacrifice, how so many lives were lost, many of which were Muslim. I had no idea about the diversity of troops England had so I truly appreciated getting to learn more about my ancestral country. Aside from learning about World War I, the paintings and sculptures were simply beautiful and moving. So much history in a single painting. It felt really good to look at art and get some more culture. We got a quick bite to eat afterwards at this wonderful place called Best Bites and I got a brie cheese and cranberry spread baguette for under 2 pounds! That is so unbelievably cheap for brie cheese; I was so excited and seriously enjoyed my baguette. 🙂 Then we headed over to CADBURY WORLD!!!! I went to a chocolate factory!! It was definitely made and designed for children but we still had fun. We learned about the history of Cadbury chocolate, how to get the cocoa beans from the cocoa pod, and the entire process of making chocolate. There are a multitude of steps to go from just a bean to an edible and tasty Cadbury chocolate bar. We even got to see some of the chocolate being made and formed. I was quite disappointed to learn that they only have one bar of dark chocolate and nearly thirty or so different milk chocolate bars. I want some dark chocolate!!  So I only bought a small dark chocolate bar. I still had fun because once again I was with a good group of friends and we had a lot of laughs. So that was my day in Birmingham. Not sure if I’ll visit there again. I think I may have gotten everything out of the city that I desire. But I do recommend going to Birmingham for the chocolate factory and the museum!! That’s all for now folks.

Cheers!photo-2-1

London Baby!

Sooooo London happened aaaaaaaand I kind of sort of loved it! Translation: I LOVED IT!

I got to see Big Ben, which was a huge check off the bucket list. I’ve been waiting to see Big Ben in person ever since I saw Peter Pan as a kid. It was quite surreal. The whole weekend was surreal. I saw the Buckingham Palace although the Queen was not home. What a shame; I was going to offer myself as an eligible bride for Prince Harry. Better luck next time I suppose! I got to go on the London Eye, which ended way too quickly. It was really cool to see all the city of London. What really made the weekend so great and special was the great group of students I was with. We had a lot of laughs with and at each other. We went through the London Dungeon attraction which was quite scary! It was also educational about the horror that has transpired throughout England’s history including the forms of torture, Jack the Ripper, a tyrannic king whose name I have now forgotten because history has never been my strong point, and much more. We also went on a three-hour walking tour which took us to statues, old palaces, monuments, parks, and other historical sites all right there in the city of London. I hadn’t realized how close all of the attractions were. Buckingham Palace was not so far from the London Eye where I could also see Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I guess it makes sense that all these buildings would be so close together as the city of London did not always have such a high population. When building a new city way back in the day, one would not place everything so far apart so obviously everything would be very close together. It was also crazy to realize how jam-packed London was. So many tall buildings and skinny roads it was almost like I was surrounded by walls every moment. In some areas of London, there was a minor feeling of claustrophobia.

Granted, I did love my weekend in London but I will be honest. A lot of my excitement at the beginning of the trip kind of died by the end. One would think it would be quite the experience, but the whole weekend, no matter how excited I was to be in London, I could not help but thinking London is just another city. It only comes across as cool, exotic, and different because I am a foreigner. When my group stopped to take one of the many pictures of Big Ben, I heard a passerby say “Why do these people care so much about a clock?” This comment made me think. To the natives of London and England, it is just a clock tower. Simply a landmark of the city. Why do people get so excited about landmarks? It is something new to see, something that has been talked up. When I saw the clock tower in person, I took a second to stop and think. It was satisfactory to see it after having dreamt about it for so long. After that second passed, I then thought ‘well, it is just a clock tower’ and I was ready to move on. I think what made a difference was I didn’t feel like a tourist. I had been living in England for two weeks when I went to London so I was slightly adjusted to the country. Also the aspect that I do currently live in England did not make me feel like a tourist; I have the next three months to revisit London if I choose. It is a bus or train ride away rather than an expensive vacation that will only last a week. I suddenly realize this post is kind of disappointing and not very exciting but I promise I did enjoy my time in London!  All in all, London was everything I expected it to be and it was also nothing like what I expected it to be. I definitely want to visit again before I leave as there were a few items I did not get to check off my bucket list. More to come later on with other adventures.

Cheers!

img_2103

img_2167

img_2147

Whopping 2 Weeks

As the title states, it has been a nearly whopping two weeks since I have arrived in England. That does not sound right. Two weeks already? It is already flying by which is not good. I need this trip to last forever! I almost forgot about posting a blog because I feel so engrossed in everything I am doing. What is strange for me is I don’t feel as if I am abroad. I know that I am not at my home university or my home for that matter, but Leicester does not feel foreign to me. This thought reminds me of what my aunt told me before I left. She said, “Don’t just visit there, live there.” I think my aunt was right. I have been trying to live here and make it feel like home, rather than feel like a visiting tourist. I think doing so has made it more easy to acclimate to my environment and feel more at home. Granted there are phrases or ways of doing things that I am still trying to adjust to but I do feel myself catching on. For instance, here in the U.K. people refer to friends as mates but what is more different is sometimes they refer to their friends as the c-word (I hope you can figure that out because I refuse to say exactly what it is in this blog). In the U.S., this word is extremely vulgar and used as an insult but here in England, I’ve heard my housemates use it for each other and it sounds more like a term of endearment, just like the words “friend” or “mate”. That word throws me off the most especially because they use it so nonchalantly that it loses its vulgarity. They also refer to cigarettes as fags, which is another word I’m only used to hearing as an insult, but again it is a nonchalant term that only refers to a cigarette.

Moving on from slang, I completed my first week of classes at Uni! VERY different from my home university. Here, there are no small assignments or midterm exams; instead, there are readings and participation in class seminars, at least one essay and the final exam. Sounds really easy right? Well the exams for this term will be given after I have left the country so in place of an exam, I will write an additional essay. The impressions I have gotten from professors and other students, essays are written much differently than how I have been learning to write them. For instance, one professor told the class not to use direct quotes as evidence . . . excuse me? That is literally the only way I was taught how to provide evidence in my essays. So I am going to have to speak with my professors, consult a tutor, ask my housemates and so much more to make sure I don’t screw up my essays and flunk out of classes because I do plan to graduate in the near future. Another difference is the class rooms themselves. Some of my class rooms can only be entered if you go through one door to get to a corridor with another door then go down the hallway and arrive at the class room. That is so much more complicated than what I am used to. Can’t there just be one door, I pull it open and boom! there is my class room? I guess not. That may not seem like a big difference but maybe just the fact that I know I’m in the U.K. makes it feel more different.

Also, I never have classes on Wednesdays. What am I supposed to do for a whole day in the middle of the week? I’m glad you ask. I think starting next week I will spend my Wednesday(s) (depending on my budget) hopping on a bus and visiting another city in England. By bus, I can get to so many other cities in less than two hours. Plus bus tickets are super cheap if I book them a few days ahead of time. So look at that, I’m going to explore England before I get an entire month off and explore Europe. Sounds like a hell of a good time to me!

Speaking of exploring England, tomorrow I head off to London for two days! I am so excited to see London. I am going in a group so have no fear of me getting lost in a big, foreign city. I will be with friends and we are going to have so much fun! We’re going to tour the London Dungeon, go on the London Eye and by golly I am going to buy myself a Guinness! I feel like such an adult doing all this traveling and decision making (I’m dorky, it’s okay). I think this is about all I have to say for now. The included image is of me standing in front of the City Centre’s clock tower!

Cheers!

 

Much More

There were so many things I did not get to mention in my post yesterday because I was slightly crunched on time but today is more of a down day so here we meet again.

I mentioned the accents of the locals but I did not mention the other international students I have met. So far I have met people from states all across the U.S. as well as students from Australia, France, Italy, and Mexico. I’m sure there is more but it is quite hard to remember everything that happens and every person I have met. This whole first week (HOLY CRAP IT HAS BEEN A WEEK) was jam packed with different activities for the international students so I really have not had any time to myself. It has been really nice to hang out with students who are going through the exact process as me and who are just as excited/intrigued by every little thing that means absolutely nothing to the locals. My roommate is from Virginia so it has been great to bond over the same discoveries we’ve had about Leicester, our housemates and the university. When I first arrived, I definitely did not feel very comfortable. Anyone who knows me may think this is not true because I’m so open and friendly…and loud…and ridiculous…and other traits but now I’m just embarrassing myself. But I didn’t know anyone and nothing was the same so there was nothing familiar for me to hold onto that gave me comfort. But I will say after a week I feel much more comfortable in England. I can already tell it is going to be devastating to leave. Family: I promise I won’t miss my flight back home.

Moving on!

I need to take a second to say that the Uni students (Uni is short for University [obviously] as the term college is used for their version of high school) are wild and crazy! I don’t mean this in a bad way and it’s honestly just the norm here but they stay up to party SO LATE. Oh my sweet lantis. They start seshing or pre-seshing (spelling it wrong most likely but it’s what Americans would call pre-gaming) around 9 pm, sometimes earlier. This is fairly familiar to how I would spend a night back in the states (not that I drank a lot or party-ed ever mom and dad…I’m also legal in the U.S….fyi). But the difference is the clubs stay open until 5 or 6 in the morning so no one comes home until 6 or 7 in the morning…..you’re shocked, so was I. I guess this time would be normal for bigger cities in the states but I never went to big clubs in big cities so 5 am is LATE to me. I will admit that I have taken part in these activities solely for the purpose of anthropological research (of course).  However, these students are all 18-21, with 18 being the legal age limit to drink in the U.K. so it really is not that big of a surprise that young Uni students are up late drinking. I could even walk around my Student Village drinking out of a bottle or cup and not get in trouble. Crazy.

Aside from drinking, there is so much more smoking as well. Smoking cigarettes (or fags as I have heard a few friends say) is so common no one cares, ever. I did find it funny that even though smoking is so common, the warning labels on the cigarette packs are much larger and bolder. I have even seen an image of doctors performing surgery….so clearly those warnings are useless. I hate to talk about drugs (I HAVE NOT DONE DRUGS. REPEAT: I HAVE NOT DONE DRUGS) but even weed is so insanely common here. Granted it is still illegal here but even in the student village, students don’t necessarily get in a lot of trouble for it. Crazy! I think that is all I should say about drugs. I may be giving some of you the wrong impression. Again, friends/family in the states, this is simply the norm in the U.K.; they don’t view drugs and alcohol with such negative connotations as we do so just keep an open mind as I am trying to do.

My first class is tomorrow and the way classes are scheduled here is so different. For example, the first term (fall), students study and go to classes for about two months or so, then go home for the holiday. Just last week did the students take their exams for the first term. So they were home visiting family, working and also having to study for their final exams. Personally, I would forget every single little thing and flunk out of Uni. Luckily, international students do not have to stay for exams, which for me would be in the end of May. Uh, I’ll pass but thanks for the offer. Uni in general so far is very different than the U.S. I meet for one class tomorrow from 9-12. Three hours for a class! Not only that, but we meet again the same day for another hour! What the heck are we going to be doing?! But that is the only time we meet the whole week. I have another class exactly like that a different day. My third class meets twice a week and only an hour for each day. Not as bad and more similar to the structure I’m used to at my home university. In regards to my textbooks, I don’t have to purchase any! No one does! All textbooks or reading material is available at the library for checkout. Uh, U.S., get on this system. Please and thank you. So as far as classes go, I’m intrigued to see how the in-class sessions are set up and the sort of homework/reading assignments we’re given. I’ll let you know later this week!

I guess I should explain where I’m living. I live in the Oady Student Village. Think of the term village as sort of a neighborhood. So my village has dorms and houses to live in so for about three blocks it is all students. We have a food court, a pub (A FRICKEN PUB), a mini shop for food and laundrettes of course. We have to take a bus to campus because CAMPUS IS AN HOUR WALK AWAY. I have no idea why the student-living is so far from campus but it is. So I ride the bus now; I didn’t even do that in the U.S. so it was really hard to figure out which bus took you where and when I needed to be at the bus stop but now I have figured it out. Luckily there is a sort of supermarket further up the road called ASDA, which is essentially a really small Walmart with way less options. Here is where I bought my towel, laundry basket, and shower essentials. So have no fear family, I will never go hungry because there is always somewhere to get food.

I can’t think of anything else right now other than I am really liking England. A lot. My housemates are all super nice and helpful (oh, ps- I’m in a co-ed house) and I’ve made good friends with the international students too so yay me! I made friends! Were you even worried? Of course not. I think I will leave it at that for now. More to come later this week.

As the English say, Cheers!img_2076

 

Pre-Departure

Hello all! Welcome to my blog! I have never done this before so bear with me as I will most likely rant on for too long and probably veer off course. So to start, my name is Brooke. I’m a senior in college. For the past three and a half years I have been attending the University of North Dakota majoring in Theatre Arts. Now, I will be spending my very last semester of school in England! That’s right folks, I’m off to the U.K.! Before you ask, no I will not be in London. I’m actually going to be about three hours north of London right smack in the middle of England. Other things you should know about me is I love dark chocolate, I can’t decide between cats or dogs, and I am absolutely over-the-moon-THRILLED to be studying in England! Now let’s get down to business.

Wow. In less than a week I will be leaving the U.S.and beginning a brand new adventure in a foreign country that I will get to call home for four months. For those of you who do not know me on a personal basis, England has always been on my top 5 list of countries I want to visit. And now I am! Not even six months ago did I know I would be embarking on such a trip. But here I am trying my best not to over-pack or under-pack, or accidentally pack the dog! I mean, I’m going to be LIVING in England for FOUR MONTHS. What does one pack for such a trip? If anyone out there has tips or tricks please let me know!

Aside from the maddening packing, I should let you know that studying abroad is no simple or easy task to accomplish. There were, and are, many steps to take. I hope this blog could be of help to anyone who is thinking about studying abroad. First, I had to get a passport because those can take quite a bit of time to get back to you. Second, there were many hoops to jump through at school, such as making sure I had taken all the courses required of me, set up contact information, and apply to the schools of the country desired of me. I essentially applied to college again. Anyone in college knows applying to college is a pain in the a**. Third, I had to arrange for someone else to take my place in my apartment so I wouldn’t have to continue to pay rent (bless this person!). This also means I had to completely move out of my apartment. My SUV was absolutely FULL! (Don’t try driving without being able to see out of your windows at home kids). Fourth, I had to quit my job. Quitting your job may not be necessary; maybe you can take a leave of absence. But because this is my last semester and I have no apartment to go back to, Grand Forks has nothing left for me when I return. Fifth, I had to figure out a phone plan that didn’t break the bank. Do I continue my plan with my American network or get a new sim card with a different phone network when arriving in England? I’m choosing the latter option. Lastly, I’ve been biding my time between my parents’ houses spending time with family, enjoying the holiday season, and also trying to make all necessary payments and arrangements at the new university. There were also certain tasks that could not be achieved until another one was and certain deadlines to meet so this has all come together over the course of four months. On top of all of that, I was still in school trying to do homework, papers, readings, productions (theatre major), and work on the weekends. It was quite stressful.

I’m sure I have left many things out but I hope you get the gist that this was a time consuming and difficult process. Thankfully I had many mentors and advisers at my school to help me step by step so I owe a HUGE thank you to them. Also my friends and family were very supportive and tried to lend a helping hand when I needed it. But pretty soon all of that stress will have been completely worth it because I’m going to be in England!! There are so many things I am excited about but the one aspect I am MOST excited about is this: this is my adventure. I will have the opportunity to learn so much more about myself AND learn so much about another country’s culture. The independence and freedom I feel going into this trip is irreplaceable. I don’t know that I will ever have a chance to travel to Europe again so I plan to take full advantage of it. I will be posting every week on this blog to update you on my experiences. I hope I haven’t rambled too long but I also hope you look forward to reading my next post. For the time being . . .

That’s all folks!

 

ENGLAND!!!!

First week in England!! Where do I start?

Plane: None of you probably care about this aspect but I have never flown internationally before and it was such a different experience. First of all, there was NO ONE on my plane. So much room to stretch out and sleep. Score! Second, there was a blanket, ear plugs, head phones, eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, socks and a personal TV screen on the back of each head rest. So many scores! Thirdly, I got complimentary wine (biggest score by far) and my dinner was delicious! I slept for about four or so hours then the flight attendants woke everyone up for a “wakey wakey” breakfast. Thanks for that I guess, but I was still sleeping soooo….

Moving on!

Quick reminder: I am not in London. I flew into London, had to wait in the airport with the other arriving international students, then we took a shuttle directly to Leicester (pronounced Lester). I live about two hours north of London by bus.

The biggest differences off the bat were the accents; I’m still having a little trouble understanding what my English friends are saying. They don’t project as much as us Americans do (which would explain why they view us as so loud and obnoxious)and sometimes their words run together more so I’ve had to ask multiple people to repeat what they’ve said. Sorry English friends. You still sound cool. Also the roads: I’ve had a near miss. I have to look right first for cars driving from the right. OPPOSITE! I’m still struggling with that but I’m slowly getting used to it. I have ridden a double decker bus; it was not red and it was a quick ride but it was fun to run up to the second floor.

I still have not started any classes; those start on Monday. This whole week has been meeting other international students, meeting on campus to confirm classes, getting acquainted with the campus and where we live, and essentially getting settled.

Below are images of the house I live in, the door to my room, my room, this super cool and old English cemetery next to my campus, and a non-functioning telephone booth that wouldn’t open. There is so much more I could tell you but my friends are waiting to meet up with me so I have to cut this short. I’ll try to make my next post longer. Tata for now! 🙂