I have been back in Oregon for a little over two weeks now. I had intended to write this post after the first week of being back, but I basically slept through that entire week so there wouldn’t have been much to talk about. I did not get sick on the plane this time so that was good. I was awake for about 24 hours straight though by the time I arrived at PDX and really just wanted to go to bed.
Being back with my Oregon friends and family is nice, but being away from my London friends is not. I miss them so much already and it is hard not knowing when I will see them again (if ever). I never imagined I would meet so many amazing people who would make it so hard to say goodbye. Hopefully I will be able to go back someday soon.
There are some things I already miss about London and some things I definitely don’t miss. I miss public transport. Driving again is exhausting and stressful. I got so used to being able to relax on my transport because the only thing I had to pay attention to was the stop I needed. My car sickness is even worse now than it was as I did not ride in a car for more than a few minutes over the last few months. I miss the people and being so close to everything. Just driving the hour and a half from Monmouth to my hometown feels like forever. One thing I don’t miss is the food, or rather my eating habits while away. I have been eating SO much better these last few weeks and it has been really lovely to actually be able to cook again. I do not miss living in a flat, although I do miss having my very own bathroom.
I am sure as more time passes there will be more things I miss and more things I am happy to have back. I am interested to see how things are once school starts. I think it will definitely have both its ups and downs, but WOU is definitely one of the things I have missed the most. I love my school and I am excited to go back.
Returning home was equally as stressful as going to London was in September because I did not know how I was going to feel about it. Being on break has definitely made it easier though because I have only spent time with my closest friends and family. Going back to school will be overwhelming I am sure. Everyone keeps asking “tell me about your trip” and I just look at them because how do you describe three months of your life in just a few sentences. Especially when you have experienced thousands of things worth talking about. I usually just respond with “It was absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t change one thing about it”. I think that sums it up pretty well. It was a once in a lifetime experience and is one I will remember and appreciate for the rest of my life. I cannot express in words how thankful I am. I now have friends all over the world and have a whole new view of the world and the people in it.
Cheers to Europe.
It is time to say goodbye to the country which I have called home for the past three months and the wonderful people I have met along the way.
Before I get to the emotional stuff though I fill you in a little on how I spent my last weeks. My last two trips of this adventure were Ireland and Spain and I took both countries on in just under a week and a half. In Ireland I stayed with a girl from WOU who I had never met until I was in London and she in Ireland. So crazy how those things happened. We got along very well and I loved exploring the country she has been calling home. It was absolutely beautiful and I could definitely see myself living there someday. Spain was my last trip and once again I was going it alone. It ended up being a wonderful experience, despite not wanting to go due to exhaustion and a small stomach flu. The hostel I stayed at had so many activities to get involved in which allowed me to meet a lot of people. Although I had made this trip “alone” I never felt alone thanks to all the friends I had made in just a few short days. Both of these trips were the perfect end to the adventure of a lifetime.
To say this experience has changed me would be a complete understatement. I have grown in ways I never would have imagined and cannot say how thankful I am to have been able to have this experience. Packing up your things and moving to a new country for a few months is not easy and there were times when I thought I wouldn’t end up getting on my plane. But I did, and I am so incredibly glad I made that leap of faith. I have met so many amazing people from not only London but all of the other places I have been as well. People are much more friendly than we often believe. You just have to work up the courage to say hello. I used to be afraid of being alone, but in these past few months I have explored the world (mostly) on my own and now I feel like I can take on anything. The memories I have made are unforgettable and these people will forever hold a special place in my heart.
When I first arrived I could not wait to go home and now I would give anything to have just a few more days. I wouldn’t change a thing about this trip. There were definitely some not so great moments but the good ones outweigh them tenfold. Thank you for being my temporary home. Goodbye London. Or rather, see you later.
I am a bit behind so I will put two weeks into one. Week nine was not very eventful. Mostly I just did stuff for school and hung out with my London friends. I feel like I haven’t seen them much with all the traveling I have been doing. I did go and see Wicked with a friend I have made here and it was so good. I want to go again before I leave,
Week ten was AWESOME, because my boyfriend was here!! He left today though, which was hard. While he was here we went to Paris and explored a lot of London. It was so wonderful to see him again. I loved showing him around this city which has become my temporary home. It made me really excited to go home to Oregon though and get back to my life. Being here has felt like a huge vacation, as I have not had many responsibilities while here. This whole trip has had a feeling of being unlike my real life, which I miss. I am ready to be back in a routine again and to actually have some lazy days.
I am taking 19 credits in the Winter which will be crazy as I have had almost no work to do for school while here. School in the UK is pretty different from in the states and going to classes is really not necessary, especially since I am not taking the final at the end of the year. School here is honestly really easy in terms of the time commitment it takes to do well. It is going to be hard going back to school everyday and having work every night. I am ready though. I love school and I am excited to get back to it even though I know it will be difficult.
Tomorrow I am going to Ireland to spend a few days with another girl from WOU. I am very excited to spend time with someone from home and talk about WOU. Many of my trips have been solo and I have stayed in hostels for all of them. It will be nice to have company and to stay in an actual home. Then on Saturday I head to Spain for a few days. These are my last two trips on this adventure and I think they are going to be some of the best. I head back to Oregon a week after I return from Spain. It is so bittersweet and I think it is going to be much harder than I was expecting. Many of these people I will never see again and that is hard as I have become quite close with many of them. I am ready to go home and see my friends and family in Oregon, but it will be hard leaving my London friends. They all say they will see me again, but in all honestly that is not going to be true for many, if not all.
Goodbyes are hard, but I would not change one second of this trip. I have grown so much and have seen more in the past ten weeks than I ever imagined I would see in a lifetime. Studying abroad is seriously a once in a lifetime experience that I wish everyone could do. I am thankful I was able to. Two more weeks and then Oregon here I come.
At an ice bar in London
We went and saw Lion King too!
I cannot believe it is already week eight. I have spent the last week(ish) in Italy and have just gotten back to London. Thus, I am now writing this post!
Italy was amazing! I had such a wonderful time. I went to both Rome and Venice. They were both beautiful in their own ways. The weather was also a huge bonus as it was in the mid 70s the whole time I was there. This time a friend went with me and that was really really great. I enjoyed having someone to talk to and to have meals with. The food was definitely one of the best parts. Although, I think I gained at least ten pounds.
The culture in Italy is much different from London. You almost never see someone eating alone, unless they are a tourist. People in Italy always seem to go out in large groups. Also, basically everyone drinks wine. I do not remember seeing one beer the entire time I was there. People in Italy are MUCH more social than people in London. It isn’t that the people in London are not nice, but they wont just strike up a conversation with you on public transport or in a restaurant. Italy is the exact opposite. At just about every meal the people sitting next to us tried to speak to us. Sometimes they only spoke Italian and a little English so the conversations were minimum but they would still smile at you during the meal and say goodbye when they leave.
One thing I did not like about Italy was all the people around the big monuments who were trying to sell you things. They seriously refuse to leave you alone. You try to ignore them, but they are quite persistent. We had one guy basically chase after us for two blocks before he finally gave up. It made wandering the streets not very nice. Sometimes we would go into a restaurant or shop and look around for a bit just to get away.
Overall though the trip was wonderful and I would love to go back someday. There is much more of Italy I want to see, but didn’t have the time. I leave for Scotland tomorrow for a few days and then in a little over a week my boyfriend is coming to visit. I am so incredibly excited. I hope you all are enjoying your adventures.
I am sorry it has been so long! I have been traveling for the past two weeks so I have not had much internet access. The traveling has been amazing though!! I went to Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam and Berlin and did it all on my own! It was such a crazy, fun, awesome adventure.
Brussels was not what I was expecting, but the major sites were nice. There just wasn’t much to do there so I was glad I was only there for a day. Next I was in Bruges, which is this medieval town in northern Belgium. It was such a cute town and I really enjoyed my time there. I took a canal cruise and saw a windmill! Amsterdam was next and it was great. The first night I went to the Anne Frank house and that was definitely my favorite part of my time in Amsterdam. Seeing history like that is so incredible. You can really imagine what it must have been like. It was so sad but also very humbling. Next was Berlin and it was definitely my favorite city of the trip! There was something about it that made me feel so welcome and safe. Overall, the trip was wonderful and I had such a good time. I learned a lot about myself and discovered that I actually don’t mind being alone as much as I thought I would.
Everyone in both Belgium and Amsterdam spoke English really well. The first time I had problems communicating was Berlin and it was actually kind of fun. It was an experience I haven’t had yet while abroad, and I found it quite cool. No one was ever mad that I didn’t speak German and even if they didn’t speak English, they would still try really hard to help me out. The best thing was that instead of getting frustrated about not being able to communicate, they would just start laughing and politely make it obvious that they did not understand. Everyone I met was really nice and that made it easier to be alone.
Although I was sad to leave my adventure, I was also excited to get back to London. I missed my room, my friends, and even London itself. I did not have much time to relax as it was Halloween, but I did manage to catch up on a bit of sleep. On Friday the Uni held a Halloween dance party and that was a lot of fun. It was nice seeing everyone, even though it had only been a little over a week. It made me realize how great it is going to be to see everyone back home again.
Speaking of home, I have reached and passed the halfway point of this trip. In a little over six weeks I will be on a plane back to Oregon. I am excited, but I still have a lot more to do until then. Friday I head off to Italy! This month is definitely a busy one. I will try my best to keep in touch regularly.
This week has been a bit less exciting, but still wonderful. At the beginning of last week I spent some time in Central exploring Buckingham Palace and the stuff nearby and then met up with a friend for dinner. (Note: the guards/police here look really scary but are actually incredibly friendly and are always happy to take a selfie with you.) Most of the rest of the week was spent with school and partying. We had an international students dinner Friday and then went to a bar afterward. Saturday was social programme. Sunday was spent with one of my flat mates exploring Hyde Park and then grabbing some dinner in Central.
As I said, Saturday I had social programme and this week we went to Cambridge! It was stunning. In England each individual university is made up of some number of colleges. The one I am studying at has four, while Cambridge has 31! Most of the colleges were closed but we were able to tour one. I felt like I was in Harry Potter. All the walks were cobblestone, the buildings were all brick, and there was an adorable canal running right through the middle. Many of the students at the uni spend the weekend punting to make extra money. This is a way of pushing a boat in which you dig a large pole/stick into the ground over and over again to make your way along the canal. Tourists pay to be pushed around in these little boats and that’s how they make their money. Although I did not ride in one of the boats, I did spend quite some time watching.
My sleep schedule is a complete mess. I usually go to bed around 2-3am and then don’t wake up until mid afternoon. I keep telling myself that I need to get this under control but it is so hard. Everyone here stays up late and a lot goes on at night. I think it is part of the culture as no matter where you go, public transportation is always busy late at night no matter the day of the week. A friend and I were joking that we will be on fairly normal sleep schedules when we return home, except me a day behind and him a day ahead (he is from Australia).
This upcoming weekend is my first trip out of the UK and I am SO nervous as I will be spending half of the trip traveling solo. Next week is reading week which means we do not have any classes, so I figured it was the perfect time to do my first trip. I am going to Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam and Berlin. I will be gone for six nights. I am really looking forward to seeing more of Europe and experiencing life outside of London. I hope that everything goes smoothly and that traveling alone ends up being not as scary as I am imagining. Wish me luck!
China Town- where we had our international students dinner
Cambridge. The people standing on the back of the boat are doing the punting.
Are you alright? Here in London that is another way to say “How are you?” and it is incredibly confusing. I have been here for a little over a month now and I still have not gotten used to this saying. Every time someone greets me in this way (which happens a lot) I usually stare at them for a while and then stumble to figure out what I am supposed to say. Do I say yes? Do I say I am good? I have asked people who use the expression and they tell me that either of those options are fine, but I still stutter. It is the one thing I am not sure I will ever get used to in the three months I am here.
On another note, I am feeling so much better. I have finally made friends! I am so happy. This past week went really well. Classes are still slow, but I am powering through. My favorite class is the one I am taking online through WOU because it actually keeps me somewhat busy.
On Saturday me and a few other internationals went to Windsor Castle. It was really beautiful and it was a lovely day so that made it even nicer. The weather has been wonderful since I have been here. It has only rained about 3 times in the entire past month. I am shocked, but not keeping my hopes up. It is starting to get colder and I am sure the rain will settle in soon.
I had plans to go to Brighton on Sunday, but the tube was delayed and I missed my train. It was too expensive to by another ticket at the train station so I went home and went back to bed. It was quite upsetting and will hopefully be the first and last time that ever happens. Now I know to be REALLY early just in case. I was thankful it was only a day trip I missed and not a flight out of the country. That would have been much worse.
Overall, I am feeling much better and am looking forward to my first trip out of the country coming up here in a few weeks.
Friends!! (At Whiteland’s formal dinner)
I learned the origin of that term this past week. It is quite interesting- you should look it up!
Anyway, this weekend was really incredible. Yesterday we went to Bath and Stonehenge as a part of the social programme. Both places were AMAZING. I highly recommend Stonehenge if you ever come to the United Kingdom. It is so simply and yet so incredibly beautiful. Bath was very interesting as well, but in a different way. There is a place at Bath where you can drink the water- it is supposed to have magical properties. Personally, I thought it tasted awful, but that may also be due to the fact that it was hot.
One interesting thing I saw in Bath that I have not seen elsewhere is that most of the street performers were teenagers and children. There was one boy who looked about 12 years old who was doing tricks with his soccer ball. It made me wonder if the parents knew their kids were out doing this or if it was something they did on their own just to have some extra money. I was amazed at how much he had earned after just a few minutes. Emma (the social programme leader) said that usually the performers are closer to our age and that the performance often has to do with music. So I guess this boy and Bath was a rarity, but I still found it really cool.
It also shows how safe places are over here. There have only been a few times late at night, walking home alone, that I have even been remotely worried about safety. From what I have been told, most people around here feel the same way. Although there are obviously certain places which are best to avoid at night, crime is fairly low here. Which is even more surprising because I very rarely ever see cops driving or walking around.
I learn and experience something new every day and it is so exciting (well except today- it is 4pm and I am still in my pajamas).
P.S. I am still having a pretty hard time making friends. If anyone could give me some suggestions as to what they did that helped them, that would be greatly appreciated.
Drinking the “bath” water!
I hope you are all having a wonderful time in your respective countries. This week has been tough for me. Things have calmed down and the homesickness has hit. It is not so much that I miss Monmouth itself, but I really miss the people. I have made friends here, but it is just so different because they know you are leaving. Another thing that makes it difficult is that everyone’s schedules are radically different. I only have class twice a week which means I have quite a bit of free time on my hands. I am a total extrovert who loves to have people around me so it is hard for me to sit in my room alone most days. My flat-mates are not very interested in hanging out with me.
I finally stepped out of my comfort zone this week and went to explore the city by myself. It was surprisingly nice, despite being alone. I went to Tate Modern and Tate Britain which are two (FREE) museums here in London. They were absolutely stunning. The only time I really wished I had another human to interact with was on the walk between the two museums. When I was looking at the artwork though I was totally immersed in my own world and did not need someone there. I plan to do this more often, rather than staying in my room, as I think it was actually quite good for me to be alone and be ok with it.
The classes here are really different from at home. You only have lecture once a week per class and it usually lasts about two hours. One of my modules (classes) has one lecturer for the first have and then another for the second. Neither of which are actually the person who runs the class. I still haven’t figured out why this is so I will come back to it when I have an answer. So then on top of lecture you have these things called tutorials which honestly I do not understand one bit. During the one I went to this week the man spent the entire hour talking at us about plagiarism. As a third year college student, it was quite hard to sit through. Overall, the classes are MUCH more independent than at home.
As I already said, you only get one two-hour lecture once a week. The rest of the week you are expected to complete readings and sort of “teach” yourself. The entire grade for the course is based on two essays and a final exam (different for me because I am only here for a term). I don’t know about you, but that would seriously stress me out. Especially since on the second day here they tell you that a 70% is probably the best mark you will ever receive. Obviously the students from here are used to the way it works and do not know any different, but it is definitely hard to go from one uni to a completely different one. Oh and did I mention my classes have 300+ students in them. If you already didn’t believe me when I said it was much different from WOU.
Another interesting thing about being a study abroad student- everyone here considers you a first year regardless of what you are back home. Sometimes it can be useful because people are much more understanding when you have silly questions. Other times though it can be frustrating because no one believes that you know what you are doing even though you have been at university for 1-3 years already. It feels like you have to start all over and completely reestablish yourself.
I apologize for my post being so much about academics, but it has been really difficult for me to adjust. I love school at home, but I am not so sure if I like it here yet. I guess we will have to see. I have only had each of my classes twice, so there is time for improvement. I promise to write a more exciting post next time!
Until then, cheers.
Hi guys! I hope you are all having fun on your adventures!
Freshers’ Week has finally come to an end and it is safe to say Freshers’ flu has got me in its clutches. This past week has been full of adventures, parties, and meeting new people. Now I am stuck in bed watching Netflix, but it was worth it. Being here has made me an expert at public transportation. Everyone here uses it. Most of the English students didn’t even bring their cars with them to school because they don’t really need them. It is so interesting how different the views on public transportation are over here compared to in the U.S. Personally, I like the public transportation. I find it less stressful.
Over the past week I have made quite a few observations. The first is that everyone smokes all the time. It is a huge part of the social life here. People go out for a smoke in groups, hang out, chat, and meet new people. At any time of day I can walk outside my building and there will be anywhere from 3-10 people out there smoking.
Another thing I have noticed is that people here are just as fascinated by my American accent as I am by their English one. This makes total sense, but was still surprising at first. I have met countless people who think it is incredibly funny to try and speak like me. They watch a lot of American t.v. so many people are actually quite good at it. Others tend to go for either the Southern or “valley girl” way of speaking. I find it quite amusing.
Lastly, no one knows where Oregon is. If they do it is because they are studying geography. I cannot count how many times I have said this phrase in the past week- “Do you know where California is? It is the one right above that”. I have also had a lot of people ask me what is cool about Oregon or what there is for tourists to do there. Many of the people here want to visit the United States someday. Obviously, I always mention the beautiful scenery, but I have been unable to come up with much more. Any suggestions?
Classes start this week. Wish me luck!
My group for a photo frenzy thing we did on the “Harry Potter” bridge.
Greenwich (the first trip of the Social Programme)