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