Category Archives: 100 Day Adventure

Already Nostalgia?

Within the first week of arriving on campus, groups were already well established within the international community. I was lucky to be in one that would later be nicknamed ‘The Breakfast Club.’ I think the name I think originally stemmed from the fact we developed the routine of eating breakfast together, haha how original. So, believe it or not, before tonight I had never seen the classic movie, The Breakfast Club. And I absolutely LOVED it. Clearly because of the self-given group nickname ‘The Breakfast Club,’ I begin thinking of our group of friends as characters in the movie. That triggered a plethora of comparisons and I just thought I should share a couple, so here goes:

Although none of us fit perfectly into the roles of the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, or the criminal, in university, we are grouped by our major rather than the typical high school stereotypes. There are so many different interests within our group. You have the English major, animation major, film major, history major, psychology and criminology major, the theatre major turned dancer, and the economics and finance major. These labels, in a way, define who we are, what we aspire to be and, to an extent, who we hangout with during our time here and especially back home. The people in your classes tend to be the people you talk to as well as the people you study with and develop relationships with. Period.

Though, instead of classification by degree choice, we are are most commonly defined by our nationalities during our time here at Edge Hill. Our backgrounds, cultures, traditions and accents (ha) we bring from our homelands are what define us. Instead of being known as the ‘nerds’ or ‘jocks’ we are known as the Americans and the Brazilians. That is who we are and there is nothing that can be done to change it. We think through the filters of our backgrounds, how we were raised and where we are from. [My thoughts through an American filter: I will forever think that people here are driving on the wrong side of the road. I will never stop wondering why there are no public restrooms and no trashcans. I will always chuckle to myself when I hear ‘fink’ instead of ‘think.’ I will always say ‘how are you?’ rather than ‘you alright?’ Lastly and most importantly, I will never agree with the concept of paying to use the toilet.] Anyhow, within our group, we have three members from Michigan, one from South Carolina, one from Colorado, one from Oklahoma, one from Israel, and one from Germany. If you look at the entire international group of students there is even more diversity. I have met folks who are here studying from Guatemala, Italy, France, Brazil, China, Ireland, England, Spain, Korea, Mexico, Sri Lanka and places ALL over the US. This got me thinking about how this study abroad experience, although we are here 100% willingly, can be compared to the Saturday detention in the movie. Like the students who would have never associated with each other otherwise, there are so many different people from all over the globe with so many different interests and backgrounds who would have never met if it weren’t for our time here at Edge Hill. Thanks to this experience, I get to be friends with aspiring teachers, doctors, actresses, lawyers and artists from all over the globe. We are all bound together and at the very least share one thing in common, despite our differences. The fact that we were blessed with the opportunity to study in freaking England and travel to places we may never have visited otherwise.

One scene that really kind of got me thinking was when Brian asked if everyone would say hi to him in the hallway when they’re all back at school. Most said no (other than Allison). The kids think that once their lives go ‘back to the normal,’ they will no longer acknowledge one another, even after significant bonds were made between the characters. He then says that he would never do that to them because he considers them friends. When we go back home, we can either get caught up with our ‘back to normal’ routines, each go our separate ways and never speak again, or we can, and I hope we do, continue to stay in touch and in each other’s lives. This experience is something that we will have in common forever. Inevitably, nostalgia is in every single one of our futures and we are the only ones that can relate to one another. This group of people, even the other foreigners here at the same time, experiencing the same activities, are the only ones that will EVER truly understand what you mean when you talk about, the sweaters at the market, the crazy KFC, Ruff woods and the overly friendly ducks on campus. It would absolutely break my heart if we never spoke again after leaving. Therefore, my promise to each of you is “don’t you, forget about me” and I won’t forget about you:) Sorry, I had to have that somewhere.

So here’s to The Breakfast Club staying in touch! Cheers! xxx

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Stretching Thoughts

Keeping a blog and a daily journal has proved to be a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. I am trying my very hardest to prevent this from becoming a hassle. I want to look forward to sitting down and writing in my journal, but it is becoming easier and easier to fall days and weeks behind. It seems like an injustice to the actual experience having to back-track my thoughts.

I think I have to come to the realization that each experience, each day, simply cannot be fully preserved in the pages of my journal or through the lens of my camera. Although, I can try my darndest to capture every beautiful scene and every profound thought that I’d like to keep for later, perhaps I should focus on documenting the most influential, significant, and memorable events. I think from this point forward, I’m going to record glimpses of certain important experiences rather than attempt to keep a play-by-play of each day. The play-by-play’s seems to boil down to entries structured like, “We did this… then we did this… then this happened” rather than getting to go into detail about something interesting or thought-provoking.

So. Here goes nothing:

Yesterday was Halloween and it was the first I suppose ‘holiday’ spent away from family and friends back home. After going out and dressing up the night before, we decided that watching movies and having cider sounded like the most fun and relaxing option. With that plan in mind, after spending much of afternoon in the library, I began to look for a place to watch our movies. Because we are study abroad/international students, we are stuck in the very back halls. When I say back halls, I mean probably the worst accommodations on campus for many reasons. The one common room we have in each of the three halls is usually, and most definitely was on Halloween night, being used to prepare for the night out unfortunately. Out of options, we decided to watch our movie in my bedroom on my laptop. Trying to comfortably fit seven grown humans in a room meant for one all looking at a tiny screen sounds very difficult. But, surprisingly, as we drank warm cider and watched Hocus Pocus, it felt very homey. There is something about close quarters that makes an experience feel comfortable and cozy. Instead of being spread out across the common room, we were all cuddled up on the bed and on the floor just talking and laughing. It’s so nice to have friends who can also appreciate a good relaxing movie night. I think Hocus Pocus with friends last night was just what the doctor ordered!


Unusually Under-committed

Oddly enough, I find myself missing the learning environment from Oklahoma City University: the 2-3 classes a week with rigorous assignments, tests, papers, deadlines, group projects and generally the over committed academic lifestyle. Here, I have found that meeting once a week for class is nice, don’t get me wrong, yet a little too spread out for my taste. I much rather prefer the consistency of the stressful due dates and tests. I am almost too relaxed in this environment. Many of my tutors (not professors, as I have recently learned that the title professor is a very hard title to achieve so not many of the lecturers here are professors) say, “Oh, it is only the third week of modules (classes).” To me that means we should be approaching our first test and have already written some sort of paper and many assignments. I still know nothing about due dates of term papers that have not yet been assigned and it is a little bit unsettling. I keep thinking that the semester will kick in eventually and the longer the wait is the more anxious I get!


Traveling for Dummies In Their Twenties

Here I am staring down the barrel of month number two and just getting back from my first independent trip and I have realized one thing. I am 21 years old and am just now learning how to travel. It is absolutely amazing to me how public travel is accessible and actually encouraged here. I have met so many people who don’t have a drivers license nor a car simply because they don’t need one. Young people are exposed to and have easy access to public transportation, so why would they drive? Back home, you have limited freedom until your sixteenth birthday when you can get a drivers license and, if you’re lucky, a car. When you meet someone who is eighteen and license-less, it’s weird. If you live in a small town, such as Choctaw, Oklahoma, you are virtually cut off from the world, unless you travel with parents. Here in England, it’s typical to see young teenagers going from the small market town of Ormskirk to Liverpool for the evening or weekend. To this day, I have never used a taxi, bus, or train to travel anywhere in the U.S. other than within New York City. Keeping that in mind, getting accustomed to the transportation here has been difficult. Though, with weekend trip number one under my belt, I feel like I finally understand how to navigate using this foreign thing they call ‘public transportation.’ On another note: It is absolutely crazy to me that young teenagers have the same opportunities that I have while I am here. We are all on the same playing field. On the train to Windermere, you can see people of all sorts: a group of teenagers going to hike in the Lake District for the weekend who are staying in a hostel, a quiet older woman staying in the same hostel who has come to enjoy the environment, an older gentleman who is ‘through hiking’ the fells with his dog, myself and Lizzie who are visiting for the weekend, hiking the same fells and staying in the same hostel. Everyone is here for the same thing. I now realize that you don’t have to be a certain age to travel. You don’t have to be rich and you don’t need to live luxuriously. You can actually travel young and travel cheap which makes me wish I had began travelling sooner. It makes me wish that when I turned sixteen, I “just went.” On a camping trip to the Wichita Mountains, a day trip to Dallas, or even a weekend trip to Galveston or Table Rock Lake. When I get back, I plan on “just going” a hell of a lot more often. The world is my oyster (Queue the cliché travel quotes.) I live in such a beautiful place and have taken its availability for granted. There are so many places I haven’t been, even in the States! I will most definitely be going to as many places as time and funds permit while I’m here! See my Facebook page for albums of the destinations I’ve visited thus far! On yet another note: During our last night of the trip to Watershead/Ambleside in the Lake District, Lizzie and I compiled a list of travel tips, things we wish we had been advised or warned of before we left home. Tips not listed written on the napkin below include:

  • Never assume you will visit the same place twice
  • Always overestimate the amount of money that will be spent on food and transportation (public transportation is expensive!)
  • Look into a National Trust membership because you can get free access into many properties/museums/tours for 27GBP.
  • Don’t carry your real passport with you on weekend trips (oops)
  • Have a padlock
  • If you’re hiking in England, there’s bound to be rain, so definitely look into WATERPROOF boots
  • Don’t focus on missed opportunities, but the things you accomplished and got to experience (You can’t do everything in one weekend/visit)
  • Use the bathroom when one is available. Please.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for directions or advice, just remember and learn from the answers
  • And I’m sure there are many more to come!
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Oh the places you’ll go…

It has been quite some time since I last blogged and I’m not sure I even remember how. The past week I have been writing in a journal so hopefully, for everyone’s sake, I’ll get back into the swing of it rather quickly.

As another semester begins, I find myself in an vastly different environment. Though classes and meetings, assignments and readings will throw me back into a well-known routine, I cannot ignore the fact that I am in England for the semester. I AM IN ENGLAND. If five years ago you had asked where I would be my junior year of college, never in a million years would I have answered ‘Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, England.’ I am very schedule driven. After my first semester of college, I planned out my entire academic career allowing me to graduate a semester early. However, one of my favorite sayings is, “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.” And that has most definitely proven true in my case.

My classes, or modules as they say here, start tomorrow and I. Am. Anxious, excited, relieved and  nervous. It is the most bittersweet first day of classes I have ever experienced. After arriving in Europe on September 11th, I have travelled to so many different places. I have fallen in love with my surroundings: the tangled canals of Amsterdam, the vivid and lush Holland countryside, the hustle and bustle of Manchester and the history of Liverpool, Chester and Conwy. Lest not forget the amazing and friendly community that make up Ormskirk and Edge Hill. I have met amazing people with phenomenal stories and made friends that I can relate to and learn from.

I feel as though I’m on a 100 day vacation. Each day is a blessing and I dare not take a second for granted. Here’s to an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.