Thursday, April 3, 2014

Preparation

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

Reflection

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.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Campus Life

This past week as been very productive. I have a lot of assignments due at the end of March which feels a lot like midterm week (more like midterm month). I still find school a bit difficult because a lot of assignments are outlines which are structured a bit differently than in the States. However, the professors and tutors are extremely helpful which takes the pressure off. My new favorite obsession is spending my whole day in the Hub working on outlines and projects. It's a great atmosphere and it makes me feel at home. 

Other than a week full of school work, things here have been 'normal'. By normal I mean, great. As with every week, I went climbing near Liverpool with the climbing club, went to class, did some shooting for VibeMedia and hung around campus. 
As much as I love traveling and don't want to waste any time, it's definitely good to spend time on campus with my friends. Friendship was the one thing everyone told me about. Saying things like "You will make friends that you will keep forever", "The friends you make will be the best" and so on. This pressure to make lasting friendships made me nervous the first couple of weeks here because it didn't happen right away. The more you put yourself out there and include yourself in random things around campus, the more you will get out of this experience.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Just the Beginning

Being a planner, I had some ideas of what I was going to do here, but I had no idea a climbing club would be an option. That's the great thing about this experience, you prepare as much as you can to leave, but you aren't ready for it until two months later. I still find it hard to grasp the idea of driving two hours and ending up next to beautiful mountains, sheep, hills, and farms or taking a 30 minute train ride and ending up in Liverpool. It would take me a 5 hour flight, plus a layover and cost $1,000 to get to Liverpool from Michigan. It was such a big deal, but now, it's as if it were never new to me. Everything is becoming normal to me and nothing seems so far-fetched anymore. Why not go to Scotland again, or Ireland? As cliche as this is, the possibilities are endless. This is just the beginning of a well anticipated chapter of my life and I've only just started writing it.
One of the great things about Edge Hill is the amount of different societies they offer. Joining the climbing and mountaineering club here has been by far the biggest surprise for me. I told myself I was going to push myself outside of my comfort zone when I got here and I was going to try something new. Well, climbing happened to be it. 
This past weekend we all went to the Lake District to hike. It was by far one of my favorite weekends here. Everyone is so welcoming and it overwhelms me at times because I am so happy to be accepted here when I am clearly new to this. I got to experience England's natural beauty with people that are amazing, views that are spectacular, and rain. I wouldn't have changed it for the world. 









Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Making Connections

This next week, I turn my focus to my studies as the semester picks up.

The biggest and most challenging aspect of school for me has been the difference in teaching styles. Back home, I took many geography courses which focused on scientific data and analysis. Whereas here, my geography course and others rely heavily on relating the information to real world situations. It is a much different atmosphere and mindset which allows me to really connect to the country and it's cultures. The teaching style has really helped me open my mind to making connections between what I learn and what I experience.

As I returned from my adventure to Edinburgh this past weekend, I couldn't help but reflect on my past month here. I have my good days as well as my bad days just like at home which comforts me to some extent. The more I travel, the more I can't wait to be back at Edge Hill, in my room in Lady Openshaw, eating at the Hub. Life at university is so simple compared to the hours spent on a train, the days in a hostel, and trying to soak in every city and attraction in a short weekend. I never thought my temporary home in another country would feel so comforting. Prior to my departure from the States, Michigan was my home; my relief and safety. In a little over a month, Edge Hill has taken over that roll.






Monday, February 17, 2014

At Home

I can't seem to come up with the right words to describe how incredibly happy I am here. I feel so blessed to be here and truly cannot explain it any other way. I had this thought that living in a different country would feel weird and out of place but I never realized how at home I could actually feel until now. 

Prior to studying abroad, everyone kept asking if I was excited, telling me how great it was going to be and that it will be life changing. I eventually got tired of being asked and truth be told, I didn't quite know what to say so I just gave a uniform answer of "Yup, I'm extremely excited and can't wait." If someone were to ask me today if I'm excited to be here, I would know exactly what to say. I'm not just excited, I'm incredibly happy. Sometimes it just hits me that I'm not going to be here next semester or a year from now and it makes me really upset, but it allows me to make the most out of every day.

I have had the best couple of weeks and for the most part I just hung around campus and went to class. This past Saturday, I had to opportunity to go to a musical called Ghost in Liverpool. It was a great way to start the weekend and experience a day in Liverpool. 



I leave for Edinburgh this Friday and cannot wait. It feels like forever since the last time I traveled. I don't even count going to Liverpool anymore as traveling which just goes to show how hard the "travel bug" has hit me. 
That's another thing I have learned through this experience. Everything seems so big and mighty but when you get down to it and travel, nothing is as scary as you think.