Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The End

I have been postponing my last blog post about studying abroad for a good week now. I knew the minute it was written would be the minute I realize this wild journey came to an end. Last week was by far the hardest week of my life. It's so difficult to explain because I'm still struggling to figure it out and put it into words. 
When planning my study abroad trip, I never understood how hard it would be to leave. I underestimated the power of kindness and friendship. For me, the most important thing to do abroad was to travel. I can look back at everywhere I have been, but what made it worthwhile was having great friends to travel with and come back to. I thought it would be easy to pack up and leave for my next adventure, but it clearly wasn't. Thinking about it, I can name 5 things I won't miss about life in England. 
1. Having to use an adaptor

.....okay so I can only name 1 thing. 

These four months, I did things for the first and last time all at once. I was stuck in this limbo of wanting to enjoy every minute of life at Edge Hill because I knew it was limited, and not wanting to get close and create a life there. I was terrified because I started to feel so comfortable in a place that wasn't my home. In my mind that really wouldn't happen, but I was seriously wrong. I had my routine and I loved it. I had class on tuesday, thursday, and friday, climbing on wednesday's, open mic nights every month, shooting sports for vibe media, and random travel adventures on the weekend's. I easily adapted this routine and breaking it was the hardest thing. So, while I sit here in Michigan writing this I can't help but look at these past four months with a sense of astonishment. I never thought I could love a place, a school, and people as much as I have in such a short time. 
Time can ruin possibilities, it can pass without a warning, but what's great about it, is it can push you to accomplish so much. Time allows you to figure out who you are while pushing back and making you question your choices and decisions. It's limited, but when you realize this, it's no longer about an expiration date, it's about what you do with it. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter Holiday: Part 3

Our last leg of our Journey was London and Scotland. After a week and a half in France and Italy, it was great to be back in the UK. It felt relieving to be back in a familiar country, even though I had never been to London before. We met up with Erika and continued our journey. I was quick to assume London would be very touristy but I was wrong, London was amazing. We went in the London Eye, saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, took a stroll down Abbey Road, and went in King's Cross Station. 

After another exhausting three days, the Eric/ka's and I headed up to Scotland. Scotland is by far my favorite place I've visited. There is so much natural beauty it is hard not to fall in love with it. In seven short days we were able to explore Glasgow, Oban, Fort William, Inverness, and Isle of Skye. Whilst in Fort William, we hiked to a gorge and spent the day in a valley. That day was by far one of my favorite days since being here. Life just seemed to press pause and I had to constantly remind myself that I was casually taking a nap in a bed of daffodils in the middle of Scotland. 

Gondola ride to see Ben Nevis Mt.

We were in Inverness on Easter and found a church to attend Easter Mass. Even though being away from home and family was a bit difficult, I felt at home because everyone in the community was very welcoming and made sure we were included. 

We also made Easter dinner in our hostel (Yorkshire Pudding!) which turned out really well and shows the importance of surrounding yourself with great people and friends because they make even the hardest of times worthwhile. 

At the end of two and a half weeks, we were on our way back to Ormskirk and I couldn't have been more excited. Ormskirk is home and I am beyond thrilled to be back. 

Easter Holiday: Part 2

After our adventure in France, Erica, Leah, and I made our way to Italy. Venice was our first stop and after a stressful day of travel, we finally arrived at our bed and breakfast. It was good to get away from a  hostel for a few days and experience life outside of the city in a home. The hardest part about being in Italy was the language barrier. Since we were staying outside of the city, we had to figure out which stop we needed to get off at but no one had any idea where we were talking about. The bus stop ended up being on the side of a road surrounded by fields and a small gas station.

In the end, we figured it out and learned how to communicate where we needed to go. Venice was beautiful. We spent our days walking around a lot, getting lost a lot, and eating gelato. Our last night we ate pasta along a canal which screamed Italy. 

After about two days, we packed up and headed to Rome. The cool thing about Europe is that you can hop on a train and be across the country in five hours. We spent our first night at the Trevi Fountain. It was even more beautiful than I could have imagined. 

The next day we went to the Colosseum, Vatican, saw the Pantheon, and ate the best Chinese food.

 I always knew traveling was exhausting but I never fully understood it until our nights in Rome when all we wanted was cheap, good, food close to our hostel that didn't have a sit in or water charge. Our hostel in Rome had a very welcoming atmosphere and we were able to meet people from Australia, USA, Canada, and Italy who were all doing the same thing we were. 

I think the most memorable part of Italy was running into a couple at the train station who spoke italian sign language. I took two semesters of american sign language prior to being here and was able to communicate to them. It is so easy to take school and education for granted but I really understood the value of it at the train station that day. The experience was extremely eye opening for me and helped me remember the value of education and the opportunities it can give you.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter Holiday: Part I

After a stressful week of assignments, I can now sit down and take this time to reflect on the past three weeks. Five countries, ten cities, 7 hostels, 1 B&B, and numerous hours on a train, I am back at Edge Hill with the experience of a life time still weighing on my mind. I started my holiday in Paris which was absolutely magical. In my head, I had this vision that Paris would be some tourist trap (don't get me wrong, there are parts) but there is so much more to Paris. We only had about a day and a half so it was packed with lots of walking, sightseeing, and adventure. We saw the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the Luxembourg Gardens, and much more. By far my favorite part of Paris was eating dinner our first night in front of the Eiffel Tower. I was able to just relax and take a moment to appreciate everything this experience has given me. 

Sacre Coeur

Luxembourg Garden

Notre Dame

Eiffel Tower

After Paris, Erica, Leah and I went to southern France to explore Nice, Eze, and Monaco. Nice was beautiful and very relaxing. Whilst here, we explored the neighboring towns of Eze and Monte Carlo. They were all so similar but each with their own style. Nice was a great place to walk around and shop or sit on the beach whereas Monte Carlo and Eze were great areas to explore the streets and local attractions. 
One of my favorite memories of the whole three weeks was spending my last night in Nice swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Monte Carlo


Thursday, April 3, 2014


This past week as been one of the most difficult weeks thus far. It is Thursday afternoon and I am currently sitting in my last lecture of the semester. In less than 24 hours, I will be heading off to Paris for the start of my two and a half week Easter Holiday. I should be excited and eager to leave, however, with so much yet to do it is proving difficult. I have been planning this holiday since I arrived in England and it quickly snuck up on me. I honestly didn't think it would arrive this fast and part of me is sad because this means my experience is coming to an end. However, I turn my focus onto the new and exciting experiences yet to come and focus on getting everything ready before I leave. 

This week was jam packed with essays, reports, and events. I have been to the library more times in the past week than I have over the past two years of my college career. This scares me. 
I also went climbing and had the opportunity to shoot open mic night again. 

I turn my focus to the next ten hours which will be consumed with lecture, seminar, packing, editing, and planning. This three week holiday will test my abilities to deal with short term 'goodbyes' which I'm not that great at. If anything, it will start to prepare me for my departure from Edge Hill in May. 

Moving forward, this time next week I will be in Italy hopefully soaking up the much needed sun. I am extremely blessed to be able to travel Europe with my friends. This will also be the first time I will be in a non-english speaking country which will truly test my ability to adapt and be flexible. It is all part of the learning experience and I cannot wait to see where it takes me. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


As I reflect over my past three months here I cannot help but feel a wave of emotions. If you had asked me at the start of this crazy journey what I expected, I could easily tell you "I want to make great friends, learn more about myself, and know that I can do it." Looking back on it I have accomplished and learned so much more. However, I did wrongly assume life would kind of just press pause while I lived up this experience. As my wise friend Leah reminded me, life goes on even when you aren't ready for it. Just because I am in a new country doesn't mean bad things won't happen and it definitely doesn't mean the whole time here will be great, because frankly it hasn't been smooth sailing all the time, as much as I wished it would have been. I have to remind myself that without the issues, tears, and sad times, I couldn't grow as a person, learn from my mistakes, and forgive.
However, what I have also learned was to let yourself have the bad times. Everyone is so quick to remind you how much time you have left and to not waste it being upset or stressed...they're wrong. Time can easily ruin this experience, it can prevent you from getting close to people in fear of getting hurt, it can prevent growth, and it can encourage regret. So let yourself be upset, let yourself be stupid and make stupid choices, and let yourself have a day or two of crying because in that moment it may be what you need, not necessarily what you want.
The end of this experience creeps up on you without a lot of warning. I tried so desperately to pretend like it didn't matter and like I was never going to leave but in the end, I leave. I wouldn't have changed anything about this experience for the world. It has made me appreciate home, family and friends. It is so easy to say you want to travel the world but when you are surrounded by people you like and enjoy being with, it makes everything that much more memorable. 
I wish I could just wrap a rope around the United States and pull it over to England to make leaving easier. That way I'm not a sea away and I wouldn't really leave. But I believe everything happens for a reason (cliche...I know) and airplanes exist as well as email. The friendships I have made here won't leave just because I do and that's a constant reminder I have to focus on in order to enjoy these last few weeks here at Edge Hill. 
I have no clue what is waiting for me in the future but I do know I had no clue this would be something I would have the privilege to experience. So I sit here waiting for the future but enjoying the present.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Where it Takes Me

I've probably said this numerous times, but I am in love with the fact that you can easily go to neighboring towns and cities and experience the culture. Last Saturday, my friends and I went to the Everton vs. Cardiff City football game. This was one of my favorite things I've done since being here. It was such a cultural experience and was so fun. Everton won within the last minute and everyone went crazy, screaming and jumping. It was definitely an experience. 

Fast-forward toWednesday, I had the privilege to shoot Edge Hill Uni sports for the day for Vibemedia.  Vibemedia is such a great opportunity to keep in touch with my photography as well as network which was really important for me to do while I'm here. The people involved in it are great and I am so fortunate to have found this organization.

This Sunday, I am taking a day trip to North Wales with other international students that the school has provided. I have taken a break from traveling and just hung around campus which as been a much needed break, however, I cannot wait to get back to traveling. 
It's crazy to think about how much the world has to offer and just how great this experience is. Sometimes it can be hard and I've had tough moments, but I wouldn't change anything about it. I am growing as a person and student and I cannot wait to see where it takes me.