Feb 2, 2014

Watching (Coriolanus!)

So, my friend Miranda’s Birthday is on the horizon and for her gift she decided that she wanted to go see Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The show stars Tom Hiddleston and is a classic Shakespearean masterpiece, so needless to say I was more than willing to tag along. The first attempt we made to see the show was last Saturday, the day we took our UMD group trip to London. We arrived at the theatre around 10:30 a.m.  to find that the tickets had understandably been sold out. We debated waiting in the return ticket line, but being that it was our first time in London, we decided we needed to do some exploring. We walked across the bridge that gets demolished in the seventh Harry Potter film, rode the London Eye, saw Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, and walked through Trafalgar Square. It was a great day filled with sightseeing, but we decided that we needed to return again to try and get tickets for Coriolanus. We settled on Thursday, enjoyed some blissful conversation on the drive back to Worcester and waited for the chosen day to arrive.

On Thursday, we departed at 6:14 a.m,, two hours before the sun came up, with the tentative joy of those who try to keep a rein on their hope of success. We were determined we would do whatever it took to get tickets to one of the two performances  that day, and we anxiously awaited our chance. While fidgeting incessantly for the three hours on the train, we came up with our game plan. We had snacks to sustain us through the wait, directions to our destination, money on hand, and we were ready to go. When we finally made it Donmar however, it was only to discover that we had paid over £50 to get there on the one day they were not selling tickets for the performances at the door. They were shooting their live shows, so only pre-purchased tickets were valid. We were so mad! It said nothing on the website about not being able to buy tickets or wait for returns, so we had a decision to make. We could wait out the night in London, and try to get tickets to the show the following evening, or we could admit defeat and go home. Being that we were never ones to give up easily, we decided we had put in too much time and effort to throw in the towel, so we found someplace with wifi and began our hotel search. There was a little sketchy B&B a few blocks down that met our requirements, so we headed over and committed to trying again the next day.

Being that we now had a whole day to do as we pleased, we headed to the local Pizza Hut and waited for them to open. Then, after enjoying some pretty fantastic food, we headed to our room, double checked for bed bugs, and then continued on our spontaneous exploration of the city. We ended up visiting the British Museum, and being as tired as I was, we were able to thoroughly enjoy ourselves by making some slightly inappropriate and sarcastic observations of the exhibits that were there. Topics included, why don’t people carve their visages in stone anymore for their caskets? And why do people think it’s ok to displace ancient remains and the things buried with them? And how did the Greeks make so many pots that remain unbroken? I break all my stuff! And also, how much it must have sucked for people who carved images and words into stone to make mistakes? That’s your life’s work. There may have also been some jokes about virgins, but we won’t go there again. It was a really fun time!  
After the museum, we really felt the need to take in some more culture, so we went to Primark haha. In all actuality though, we hadn’t planned on spending the next few possible nights in London, so we picked up some necessities and continued on our way. That evening we spent some time at M&M world, Chinatown, and Piccadilly Circus before turning in for an early night and an early morning.

We made it to the theatre on Friday by 8 a.m. and then the true waiting began. Donmar does not open until 10, so we enjoyed the rain and cold for two hours before the line even began to move. Some people had been camped since midnight and just about everyone was ready to fight for their tickets. While we waited, a girl joined us in line who had already seen the play numerous times and that sort of set us on edge, but nothing could deter us from getting those tickets. I was sure every person in front of us getting tickets was going to be the last person to get tickets, and every time we crossed any sort of threshold, I was sure they were going to deliver the bad news. However, we continued to inch forward, and other than a short awkward moment were I was forced to shove my butt in a picture of Tom Hiddleston’s face to make room for tech guys, it was a pretty enjoyable experience. Alas though, when we were but six people away from the front of the line, the announcement was made that the tickets were gone. Undeterred, we quickly made our way to the return ticket line to settle in for another nine hours of waiting.

We were close enough to the front of the line that we were confident we would end up with seats, even more so as the weaker fans started to wander away and we made it to the second spot in line. Just about everyone else there with us was surprisingly also American study abroad students, and we made some good friends with the people closest to us. We had Miranda renew our room for us, since the performance would last past the times our train ran, and sent Jasmine out for more pizza, and then the real waiting began. By the time it reached 12:30, I had purchased and started reading Coriolanus in full to prepare for the performance, and by about 2:00 we had all given up on being entertained and reveled in our boredom. Miranda watched a movie, Jasmine played games on her iphone, and we all listened to music with increasing disinterest. There was some good conversation, but it turns out that long before you reach the nine hour mark you run out of things to talk about. We were saved at 5:00 though, by one of the most miraculous experience of my life. TOM HIDDLESTON WALKED BY US!! The girl in front of us noticed him first and once we realized he was there, we had a minor freak out! Miranda said “Hi there!,” I awkwardly blurted out an excited “Hi!,’ he made brief eye contact with me, I fell in love, and Jasmine let out a short little scream, and then he said a quick hello and it was all over. It was amazing! Plus it gave us a good hour and a half of things to talk about, during which I decided that I wished I had touched Tom Hiddleston and his body guard had broken my arm, because it would be the best story ever. Ah! It was such an exciting moment for all of us. J Then on top of all of that, at about 6:30, Jasmine caught sight of Mark Gatiss inside the theatre! We creeped on him through the window and waved like crazy people. And when he saw us, he waved back!! With enthusiasm! It was the best, most sweetest thing ever! He had on a rainbow-ish scarf and a jacket with a fur-lined hood. It was glorious! I will never forget seeing those two men! Those two brief encounters made the long wait worth it!

About a half hour later though, all our dreams came true and we got out tickets!! The show was more amazing than I have words to describe! The entire cast was phenomenal! Everyone was so talented and Tom Hiddleston sort of showered on stage! The theatre was tiny and intimate, and the cast walked literally right next to us on several occasions! Mark Gatiss did his tummy patting and all was right with the world! I wish I could better explain to you how good I thought this show was, but I can’t. Everyone from bearded Game of Thrones guy to Dwane (aka Third Citizen aka one of the many loves of my life) and Scottish guy made me so happy! They even got Dean Thomas from Harry Potter! It was by far one of the best days of my life, and I wish I could have shared it with everyone I know! I just about peed with excitement!
We went back to our room after the show and left early Saturday morning still raving about all we had seen.  If anyone ever has the opportunity for anything like this in their lives, I hope they go for it! Best day ever!

I am more than a little behind on my posts. Procrastination reared its ugly head and I have many other great adventures that are unrecorded as of yet. We took big trips in November and December on our own, and there were a lot of smaller group trips that I will fill you in on soon. I just had to get the fact that I met Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss out into the universe, before I forgot all the wonderful details J

More soon!

Nov 10, 2013


Woot! Woot! Yet another trip under my belt friends. This time I accompanied my UMD group to Bath and Stonehenge. I can't even begin to explain to you the depth of excitement I felt during this trip. Each place contained so much history, and yet they were completely separate of each other. You don't get the opportunity to see stuff like this back home in Minnesota.

We left Worcester bright and early at 7:30am on Sunday morning, and our adventure was officially on its way. First stop: Stonehenge.
It is hard to explain the sense of history you feel in a place like this. The best way I can describe it as a weird mixture of overwhelming connection to all those that have come before you and a suspended disbelief that you are where you are. If that makes any sense. It is unreal.

While at Stonehenge, we were guided by an audio tour around the site that regaled us with all sorts of information about the history of the place, including detailed accounts of the different myths associated with the monument. It turns out that Stonehenge is surrounded in mystery in more ways than one. No one knows how the stones really came to be there, or what their original purpose was. Nonetheless, they are a site worth beholding.

After our short stay at Stonehenge, it was off to the city of Bath to soak up a little more early history. Well actually, we started with lunch at The Pump Room, where I had some of the most delicious potatoes of my life, and then we went to soak up a little history. The baths were amazing! We had another audio tour, and there was a lot of information to take in. Then we had a break long enough to get some chocolate and hit up a Starbucks, before taking a walking tour of the city. Bath is an old Roman town, and their presence is obvious. You can really see it in the architecture. It is like a little Italy inside of the UK. I really loved it there.

Overall, I think the Bath/Stonehenge trip has been my favorite one so far, but there are many more to come before the end of my time across the pond.
I haven't really been up to much else that is worth talking about. My first article got published in the school paper, and I am in the process of applying for my internship. My friends and I went to the midnight showing of Thor: The Dark World and volunteered at the animal shelter. But mostly, I have been entertaining myself with Netflix and the occasional movie marathons with my whale pod (which from know on is what my extended friend group in England shall be called).
Most of my days in England are pretty much the same as my days were back in the states though. Really the only difference is that I occasionally get to go somewhere or see something amazing. Which really does make the whole trip worth while. But, being homesick and actually having homework are starting to put a damper on the honeymoon phase of my trip. The frustration phase is upon me.
I have high hopes for the future though. I go to Italy in a week, and my birthday is coming up! Christmas is just around the corner, and my much anticipated trip to Scotland is starting to get planned. Also, one of my best friends will be visiting in about two months! With all that on its way, I have a feeling I will soon be emerging from this little hole I have dug myself into and will be ready to take the rest of this trip head on.
I made a little video about a week ago that was supposed to cover everything I had learned since my last post, but it turns out that my apathy got the better of me, and this post took a little longer to get out than I thought. I will link it below though, just incase you haven't seen it, in the first bullet and add a written segment that will cover some of the rest.
What I Learned:
  • You apparently cannot buy Half and Half or Heavy Whipping Cream in England
  • I really enjoy the show Supernatural
  • In England they refer to traditional newspapers as Broadsheets
  • Bread is a lot easier to make than I thought it was
  • It takes about a month for me to get sick of having spaghetti every night for supper
  • Oreos taste pretty much the same in the UK as they do in the US
  • Depending on the distance you want to go, public transportation is not always a great option
  • Putting a bunch of Americans together to watch a movie is a pretty good treatment for homesickness
  • Introducing my friends to D&D may have been a mistake (they get a little crazy)
  • And I am sure some other things that are probably more relevant that what I have shared with you here
I hope that you all are enjoying what I share with you though, and that you will continue to follow me throughout this journey. I have a great support system both here and back in the States, and I cannot thank you enough for everything you guys have given me.
I send my love to you all. More soon my friends.

Oct 23, 2013


Hello once again my friends! As I mentioned in my last post, I went to Dublin this previous weekend with two of my friends, and I have finally managed to organize my thoughts enough to share my experience with you. So, here we go.

Dublin is a beautiful city, but it is important to remember that it is indeed a city. I loved the time I spent there, but I want to start by warning you that if you are looking for a truly "Irish" experience Dublin may not be your best bet. It certainly has its Irish charms, but as with most big tourist cities, it has modernized itself in many ways, giving in to many chain attractions and cheesy theme restaurants. That being said, there are so many amazing aspects of the city that I want to share with you!!

We started our trip off late Friday night in Birmingham and spent the night in a hostel, so we could make our very early trip to the airport on Saturday morning. The hostel was nice, clean, and had Mario Kart 64, but it also had extremely thin walls. We stayed up later than we should have watching The X Factor and then were kept up most of the rest of the night by various tourists coming back to their rooms none too sober. Then it was up at four and off to the airport by 5:30.

This being the first time that any of us had traveled alone, we had a bit of a hard time at the airport. We traveled Ryanair, and they have a policy that all non-eu passports need to be checked before you board the plane, which is verified by a stamp on your boarding pass. The only problem is that where you get this done is outside of security by the baggage check desk. We only had our carry-ons, so we didn't think to go to there and instead continued on to security. We did however know that we needed our passes stamped and asked the lady who checked our boarding passes before going through security if we were ok to continue on, and she told us we were fine.

This was only the beginning of our problems. When we were going through security my boots set off the metal detector, and I had to get checked and scanned before I could go through, and Jasmine apparently didn't have all her liquids in the correct bag, so was pulled aside to make sure they all fit within the required size. Next, we went to get breakfast, thinking the worst of it was behind us, until we realized that we had most likely missed something in regards to our boarding passes. So, we rushed over to the gate area and found some people who worked for Ryanair and asked them about our passes, at which point we were told to hustle back through security to get it stamped and make sure we made it back to gate one before we missed our flight. We were then escorted back out of the secure area, went through the wrong line, then the right line, and brought through priority security on our way back. I was at this point luckily chosen for a random body search, making that the second time that some random lady patted me down in a\one day. We then had to semi-run in an airport past a group of policemen armed with automatic weapons to make our flight. I am sure we weren't suspicious at all. The whole ordeal was indeed quite stressful. Especially considering that we all got hardly any sleep the night before. Once we boarded the plane however, things moved much more smoothly, and we arrived in Dublin without another hitch.

Talking with our cab driver from the airport to our hotel was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. He was such a nice man, and he gave us wonderful advice on places to visit, told us all sorts of facts about Ireland, regaled us with stories about his family, and talked to us about how Dublin had changed in his lifetime, all in a very charming Irish accent.

Our hotel was gorgeous. Very posh considering what we spent, but we didn't hang out there very long. Our first mission was eating, and I finally got the Chinese food I have been craving since my arrival! All of us were a bit crabby, what with our lack of sleep, and that chicken fried rice was a godsend.

After we ate, we headed off to see the National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland archaeology exhibit (both of which were free). They were housed in beautiful twin buildings, and there was so much to see inside. I wish that I had found some sort of tour through the museum, because there was so much there that would have been more interesting if it had been explained to me in context. Nonetheless, I found a lot of it quite fascinating.

It started raining when we left the museum, so we escaped to Starbucks until it subsided. Then, we headed over to Dublin Castle for a tour. I was a bit disappointed by medieval area of the castle that they boasted. It was just a bunch of half-dug up stones, but I very much enjoyed the staterooms. Much of it is still in use today, and I stumbled on a picture of General Cornwallis (who is portrayed in the movie The Patriot as the English general who has his dogs stolen by Mel Gibson) that I very much enjoyed seeing, as well as a few other things.


After Dublin Castle, we headed back to the hotel for a bit and then went out to supper. We ate at Bobo's, which is a highly rated local burger place. Then, we went out to experience the night life. We stopped by the infamous Temple Bar, before heading off to find someplace a bit quieter with live music and then calling it a night.
Sunday was by far the superior day for me however. We started off by doing some tourist shopping and getting a few souvenirs. Then, we went to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was absolutely beautiful. The building dates back to 1220 and serves as a kind of national church for Ireland. Words can't describe it, so you are just going to get some pictures. I have about a million, but I think that these select few capture it the best. I wouldn't want to overwhelm you. It was absolutely breathtaking.
The next stop on our tour of Dublin was Trinity College. We were hoping to see the Book of Kells, but money got the better of us, so we decided to just tour the campus. It too had some really neat buildings, but since we weren't going to visit the library, there wasn't much to see. So, we headed off to the Dublin Zoo.
Many of you may not know this, but I absolutely love zoos. Yes, I do sometimes feel bad that the animals are caged and aren't allowed to run free, but there is something about seeing animals that I would never have the chance to see otherwise that makes me as excited as a small child when I enter a zoo. You just turn around and Bam! there is a tribe of gorillas! It's like being on a Safari!
The Dublin Zoo especially had some great exhibits. Some of the animals, like the giraffes, zebras, and antelopes, were put together in larger fenced areas to interact with each other and roam much more freely than they would have been able to if they had been sectioned off from each other. They also had a great array of animals to see, over 40 species, and you can bet that I made my friends go and visit each and everyone of them! Unfortunately, they didn't have an owl, but I did get to see a few of my other favorite animals, including a snow leopard with a really great personality (pictured below), two gorgeous red pandas, and some adorable penguins. If you ever have some extra time in Dublin, I highly recommend a visit to the zoo. It really was one of my favorite places that we got to visit.
After the zoo, it was time to head back to England, so we took a cab to the airport and made our way home. And that my very dear friends was the end to my Irish journey. Hopefully I will make it back someday, but until then, these are the memories I will take with me.
On a slightly different note, I joined student council here as a Non-UK Student Representative and have started writing for the school newspaper this week, so here is to hoping that all that goes as planned.
(Some of) What I Learned On This Trip:
  • A good nights rest is more important than arriving early when traveling
  • Watching an Ostrich somewhat fall down a hill is actually incredibly entertaining
  • Get your boarding pass stamped before going through security
  • Burger King may be a bigger deal around here than McDonald's
  • The Irish really do hold a bit of a grudge against the English
  • At least one man in England knows about Cash Cab
  • Food is way more expensive when travelling than it should be
  • Bring earplugs if you are going to be sleeping in a hostel
  • Irish Whiskey Chocolate is really strange, but in a good way
  • I need to buy a new carry-on and learn to pack more efficiently
  • Irish cabbies are a fun lot of people overall
  • Always ask your cab driver if they take cards, because they may not (even if they have the machine that reads them in the car)
  • I get really controlling when asked to find our way around a city (I don't like people to question my direction choices)
  • I have some really great travel buddies
  • And so much more :)
Our UMD group has a trip scheduled for Bath and Stonehenge this weekend, so my next post will be about that. I can't wait to tell you all about it!
More soon! 
Love from England.

Oct 11, 2013


Another two weeks my friends. I can't seem to keep up with my posts as well as I would like. It turns out that my tendency to procrastinate doesn't go away when I change continents. Who knew?

I can't believe that I have been here for an entire month already! Thirty-three days and counting. And so far it has been a truly awe-inspiring experience!

The last two weeks have been mostly filled with school. The academic system here is much different than the one I have experienced back home, and to be honest I am having a bit of a hard time getting used to it.

Classes, or modules to the Brits, are almost exclusively three or four hours long and held only once a week, at least in my experience. This system has its advantages. For instance, it is much easier to form a schedule where I only have modules three days a week, but it has its disadvantages too. Perhaps it is only because my own system has conditioned me to hour long classes, but I find it almost impossible to stay engaged in a lecture about the same topic for three hours at a time. Also, because I am taking almost all Freshman level classes, a lot of the material is stuff that has been introduced to me in previous classes.

They also have a completely different grading/assessment system. Each module will set up somewhere around two or three assessments, usually papers or portfolios, that will combine to make up 100 percent of your grade. So, while attendance is mandatory, you get no points for participation in discussions or smaller assignments that are given to you. Also, a lot of the classes have moved away from testing, so note-taking and detailed reading of text seems to become less important. Add to this that at least in this semester I am not taking any modules that count toward my major and my normal studios tendencies have gone out the window.

My main problem currently is that I have found myself in a beautiful county with plenty of distractions and little emphasis on my academic life. I think that next semester however, when I am taking more classes that fit into my degree and that I am genuinely interested in, I will much prefer the British system, but only time will tell.

My favorite school memory so far was when we were asked to draw what we thought represented America in our Social Constructions class. Of the all the pictures I think that Mount Rushmore may be the best.
Last weekend, our group participated in home stays. Each of us was assigned a family to stay with, and we got our first taste of British life. The lady I stayed with had two teenage children and a dog. I'm not going to lie, I was more excited about the dog than the home stay, (I have been in serious need of animal company) but everyone was very nice. There was a bit of awkwardness, because they were in the midst of dealing with some family issues, but it was a good experience nonetheless. They took me to Broadway,  a little village nearby (pictured below), and I got to have my first cream tea. It turns out that people were not lying to me when they said that clotted cream was good, no matter how gross it sounds, and Jackie, my host mom, told me I did a very British job of getting all the cream and jam onto my scone, so go me! The next morning, I went to my first English church, and although I was the youngest person there by about 20 years, looking back I am glad that I went along, if only to compare it to my own previous experiences. Then, it was back to the Flats for me.

That's about all that is worth hearing about since the last time I posted. It's been a lot of TV watching (I caught up on The Walking Dead and have finally started Breaking Bad) and hanging out with friends. I started cooking group dinners with a few people, which has been much better than eating peanut butter sandwiches alone in my room, not to mention healthier. We also planned a trip to Dublin for the 18th through the 20th of October, which I couldn't be more excited about!! I can't wait to tell you all about it! And, I went to my first club! How did I almost forget to share that! It is so out of character for me, but I actually had a really good time, even with little to no alcohol. It was one of my friend's 21st birthday, and she begged me to go out with her, so I did. We went to one of the tamer ones, and as I mentioned I actually had a lot of fun!

What I've Learned:
  • If you want really good hot chocolate in Worcester, go to the Chocolate Deli
  • British Snickers taste much more like peanuts, and Twix taste really different
  • On a similar note, British Dr. Pepper tastes more like Mr. Pibb
  • In almost all British restaurants you pay before you eat, and many don't have take out boxes
  • They call baked potatoes Jacket potatoes
  • You need a passport sized photo to get your railcard
  • Freshman only get pass/fail grades their first year at Uni
  • British bacon is more like ham; you need to find streaky bacon if you want American bacon
  • Even the British are disturbed by Miley Cyrus' twerking
  • When the red and yellow lights on stop lights are lit up at the same time, it means prepare to go; just yellow means prepare to stop
  • They call cheese like Kraft singles American cheese
  • Again about a million other more useful things that just aren't coming to mind

Anyway, that is all for now. More soon.

Love to you all

Sep 24, 2013


Hello again!

I am happy to report that these first two weeks in England alone have yielded some of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life so far! So much has happened since I last posted that I am not even sure where to start, but the beginning seems as good as any. Just a forewarning, I have a lot to say, so be prepared to settle in and hear some stories.

The first week brought about a lot of "housekeeping." We had our convocation, and explored the city a bit and got to know one another and a lot happened. Right away, I want to give a heads up to anyone who is ever planning on visiting Worcester. The local music scene is amazing! A group of us went to The Marr's Bar on Wednesday night for their weekly jam session, because one of the girls who came over with us wanted to perform, and it was really fun. Just about everyone who played was really good and the owner seemed genuinely nice. It's not a club or a tourist attraction, so the atmosphere was really laid back and everyone truly seemed to enjoy themselves! Also, there wasn't much pressure to drink, which was good.

Not taken at Marr's Bar, but still a fun place! The Hand in Glove
I made a few really good friends among the people who came from Duluth with me, and even the ones I am not that close to yet, seem like awesome people. It was really good that I made friends too, because while we were out shopping at ASDA yet again, I didn't have enough cash on me to pay for my stuff and both of my debit cards were declined in the store, so someone had to lend me some money. I was so scared that I was going to end up penniless, because I couldn't access my bank accounts. It turns out however, that my cards worked in the ATM or cashpoint, as it is referred to in the U.K., and the only reason that they did not work in the store was because my cards don't have a chip and pin like British debit cards do, and the machine wasn't equipped to read them. But man did that experience get a rise out of me!

I have explored so much of Worcester already, and yet just about everyday I find somewhere new and amazing in the city! Last week, I climbed to the top of Worcester Cathedral through this itty bitty little passage way, and was rewarded with the most beautiful view of the area!

Already, this place has become home to me. Yes, I miss my family and friends, and these two weeks have been hard and I've gotten homesick more than once, but I think it is near impossible not to love this city! I mean, look at that view!

Week two, was filled with even more adventures. I went to a local flea market, and explored my new home even more intently. Then, I got my student rail card and the real exploration began.

Some of my new friends and I decided that a pre-group trip trip was in order, so we packed up and headed out on Thursday to visit a city called Hereford that is about an hour or so from Worcester by train. We explored in town for a bit and toured their beautiful cathedral and then hired a taxi to take us outside of the city to Hampton Court Castle, which was truly amazing. The gardens surrounding the castle were incredibly pretty, and I got to go through my first ever hedge maze! I'm not sure if it is just because it is the first castle that I have gotten the privilege to see in England, but I truly enjoyed my visit! It turns out that the castle was actually purchased and majorly restored in the early '90s  by a wealthy American, which we weren't expecting to learn and made the entire experience even more enjoyable, because we got to exhibit a bit of pride for our fellow Americans!



The next day, our whole group from UMD headed to the Lake District and stayed at the Priestly Center near Coniston for the weekend. Coniston, to no one's surprise, was again breathtakingly beautiful. Our lodge was right on the lake, and we had an amazing view of the rolling hills and mountains. I am not by definition an outdoors person, but even I was ready to spend the whole weekend wandering the area and taking in the fresh air, visiting with the local sheep, of which there were plenty. I still can hardly believe that I was blessed enough to take part in all of it.

The group trip gave me the opportunity to partake in a lot of firsts. For instance, on Friday I went canoeing for the first time and learned that despite what people may tell you paddling a canoe is a lot of hard work. However, it is a lot of fun. Then, on Saturday I hiked up a fricking mountain! A few of the instructors took a group of us up to the top of the Old Man of Coniston, which just happens to be the highest point in the immediate area, and It was insane! I don't know how I convinced myself that it was a good idea, because in all honesty I am not really fit enough to hike up mountains. But I did it. Barely. It was so foggy that I could hardly see, because my glasses kept misting over, and everything was slippery. By the time I made it to the top, I was completely exhausted physically, and by the time I made it to the bottom, I was completely exhausted emotionally, because I fell and rolled a bit right at the beginning of our trip down and then fell two more times! I seriously thought I might die, because I was sure the next time I fell I wouldn't be able to stop myself from going over a cliff or something. It was intense. But, I can now say I climbed a mountain, so there is that!

On Sunday, I was up to physically very little due to some stiff muscles and aching bruises, but I did walk into the village with Julia, who heads the program on the British end of things. And it was great to talk with her and get to know about her life and pick up a few souvenirs before we headed back to Worcester. All in all, I really enjoyed the trip and I would love to return to the Lake District sometime soon!

Now, we are back from our trip and classes are starting. I am a little worried about them all being three hours long, but I am excited to jump back in! Getting in a routine can only help to make me feel more at home here in Worcester, and I am looking forward to seeing what this University has in store for me!

Again, I want to thank you all for your support and encourage you to go out and explore when you have a chance, because even in places you think you know there is always more to discover!

There is so much more that I would love to share with you, from stories and embarrassing moments to pictures and so much more, but I think if you made it this far you have been reading long enough! If you have any questions though or there is something more you would like to know about my experiences and the places I have visited or see more pictures or whatever, just let me know! This blog is for you.

Love to you all!

P.S. I am skipping the "what I learned since my last post" section this time around due to length, but don't worry it will make it's return appearance!

Sep 10, 2013


To my hopefully numerous readers, friends, and family: Welcome to my blog!!!

For those of you who don't already know I have recently moved to Worcester, England to begin my year of studying abroad. My group and I flew out of Minneapolis-St. Paul airport on September eighth, and arrived in London the next day. It has been both a hectic and a wonderful few days! I still can't believe that I am here, living in this beautiful city for the next nine months!

There are many reasons that I chose to go on this trip, chief among them being that there has never been a time in my life that I truly struck out on my own. While it is true that there are at least 19 other people with me who are going through almost the same thing, I find it both terrifying and exhilarating that I don't really know anyone here.

Anytime that I have made a major change in my life, or took a risk, there has been someone with me that I know and love. That is no longer the case. This trip is my opportunity to learn who I am away from the life I have always lived. My chance to experience new things and immerse myself in a new culture in a way that I may never be able to again, and I only hope that I continue to embrace it as I have the last few days.

There is so much that I want to get out of this trip, so many places that I would like to visit and things that I want to see, realizations that I want to make, that I only hope that I can manage to live up to the expectations that I have set for myself.

I do not want to come back from England, the same way that I left, and I do not want to waste a single minute of what little time I have in this beautiful country.

For those of you who are wondering, and for some context, the University of Worcester does not begin classes until the 23rd of September, I believe, so I am still in orientation phase of my journey until then. Therefore, when you note a lack of input about my views on the difference between the school systems until then or read about my excursions to far off places, you can rest assured that I am not cutting class. I simply haven't begun.

There isn't much that I have left to say. At least not in this first post. After all, I have a busy day tomorrow!

I would however like to introduce to you what I hope will be a running theme in my posts, and that is a "What a Learned Today/Since my Last Post" section. The plan is to tack it in at the end of the post, but that is subject to change. Please feel free to add your comments and let me know what you think or share any suggestions you may have for me.

What I Learned Today:
  • England is just as beautiful as the pictures make it seem
  • KitKats do exist in the U.K., but they don't taste the same
  • Always pack a towel when you are traveling for long distances
  • You don't need to go through Customs for wild rice or candy bars (technically I learned this yesterday) 
  • There is a heated towel rack in my bathroom
  • The view from the window of my flat is amazing (photo to come)
  • You can't stream Netflix outside of the U.S. (at least not directly)
  • They have a lot of brands in the U.K. that are similar to or the same as those in the U.S.
  • ASDA is basically the British Walmart
  • In the U.K. the change is called Pence (which I probably should have already known)
  • A lot of the people in my group are actually pretty awesome
  • There is a street artist in Worcester named Tony who makes chalk drawings
  • The drawing he made today was of an owl
  • You and everyone you know lacking a cell phone makes scheduling incredibly more important
  • And about a thousand other things that you probably don't really want to know about :)

Thank you for being a part of this experience! Although you aren't here with me, knowing that you are out there, are interested, and/or care about me, means the world to me!

Keep an eye out for updates. I will post as often as possible.

Love to you all