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Category: England

I Saw London Now I See France

I Saw London Now I See France

Hi! My name is Ellie I am a senior French major at LVC, so you might have assumed it but, I’m spending my semester in France! To be more exact, I am in the south of France in a city called Montpellier where the beach is 20 minutes away and the weather has been wonderful. I arrived in Montpellier five days ago and it has been crazy but, you know, like the good kind of crazy. Getting a hand of the language is the hardest part but I can already tell I’m improving which rocks and I can only get better from here.

 

While I have explored parts of the city so far in the past few days, before I came I actually got to stop in England for a week to see an old friend of mine, Ella. Ella lives right outside of London so, it was really cool to have a local show me all the cool spots. My first full day, we had gone into the city of London and saw all the typical sites, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben (even though it was under construction), Piccadilly Circus but those weren’t even the best parts. A little fact about me is I love watermelon, and my friend, Ella, found a place that served watermelon soft serve in a piece of watermelon, so we had to go. While the city was cool and a great place to grab a “cheeky Nandos” we kept moving through England. We traveled to Hever Castle, where we were queens for a day and to the beach town Broadstairs, where a seagull attacked us. We also spent some time watching British reality TV shows, my favorite was Come Dine with Me, a cooking competition that features average people who compete against one another to see which one gives the best dinner party. Come Dine with Me is now a personal favorite of mine, the producers must find the weirdest people have to cook a three-course meal with entertainment and as well the guest get to snoop around each house because each guest hosts their dinner at their own houses.

 

 

All of that was amazing but Ella and I finished out my time in London together with a cream tea, which is afternoon tea with a scone with butter, clotted cream, and jam, and it was wonderful way to end a week with a friend who I had really missed and can’t wait to see again.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Home is Where the Heart Is

It’s funny how traveling has opened my eyes and helped me realize what home truly is. I guess searching the world for adventures and experiences may lead you right back to where you began, which is okay. I left my home September 11th, 2017 to come to London. But what I didn’t realize was, I left my home to go to a new home. I have found home in Surbiton, a borough of London, but I still have a home in New Jersey and also a home in Annville, Pennsylvania. All three “homes” are actual places, but what my experiences have made me realize is that a home doesn’t just have to be a place, it can be anything. Home can be in a person, mine is where my relationship lies, or people, like my home in the arms of my parents.

While I always knew home “is where the heart is,” I never fully understood what that meant. But when I look at the underlying parallels of my homes, I realize home is much more than that. Home is the feeling of security, the feeling of unconditional love and acceptance. Home is the feeling of liberation and safety, where no one is judged or humiliated, just comforted. Home is the feeling of finally being able to take a breath and have your lungs completely fill with air, knowing your fears, even just momentarily, will dissipate. For me, wherever I have these feelings, that’s where my home is.

By this, traveling is an even more wonderful experience because I can find new homes all over the world. I have found a home in the Isle of Skye, I have found a home in Bath, and I have even found a home on the riverside, watching the sunset.  I can find “my home away from home” in a variety of cities or countries or situations or interactions which is a marvelous thing. While it’s easy to be homesick from one or various homes, it is important, especially for me, to remember I can still find a home wherever I am, and my previous homes are just patiently waiting for my return.

Expectations vs Reality

Expectations vs Reality

Hi everyone, my name is D’anna and I am writing this from London, England (oh my gosh). We arrived September 12th which already feels like a lifetime away; honestly, this whole country feels like a lifetime away from America. I always assumed England would be very similar to America (probably just because both countries speak English) but I was very, very wrong. I came to this country expecting one thing, but England has handed me something completely different, a good different. These are just a few of my experiences.

Expectation 1:

Every English person assumes my American accent is cool and would want me to say various American catchphrases.

Reality 1:

Brits don’t care about my accent, half the time they don’t even know where my accent is from. But this doesn’t only come from the English, it’s also apparent in other study abroad students as well. No one knows where I’m from by just the sound of my voice, nor do they care about the differences in my accent versus theirs. Maybe obsessions over accents is mostly an American thing.

Expectation 2:

It will rain all day everyday nonstop and there will not be a single day without rain.

Reality 2:

Although it is cloudy often, over the 10 days I’ve been in London, it has rained only about half of the days. And this rain isn’t a persistent all-day rain, it’s typically nice all day until around dinner time when it rains, then stops around 2 hours later. Like every rule, there are exceptions to this one, but at least for me, it hasn’t rained nearly as much as I thought it would.

Expectation 3:

I don’t like to drink/party so I’m sure I’ll find a bunch of people who feel the same.

Reality 3:

I have never before realized how big the drinking and partying culture was here. In England, there is “Freshers Week” which consists of parties every night at various clubs. This week is AWESOME because it’s a week to go out, meet people, party and let loose before the semester actually begins, although I will admit I haven’t been to a single night event.  I have talked to a lot of students here, and out of everyone I’ve talked to, only ONE doesn’t like to drink or party (like me). Only one person. Now, I’m sure if I keep searching I’ll find more people, but I’ve never realized just how big the clubs and alcohol were here.

Expectation 4:

Since the school is in London, there must be University buses going everywhere all the time.

Reality 4:

Now, this is true, but there was an unexpected twist. I assumed the buses would go everywhere I needed to go, so I’d be walking about as much as I would attending LVC. I have tracked my steps; last semester, I averaged 9,000 steps a day. My average amount of steps has doubled since coming here. Which is great for my health, but bad for my shoes. The (free) University buses only run during the weekdays, and at off-peak hours only run once an hour. This means that on weekends if I wanted to go into Kingston Town Centre without paying for the city bus, I have to walk about a mile there and back to my residence hall (which is good becasue with all this walking, I won’t have to go to a gym to get my exercise in). These are some awesome places I’ve been to already!

Kingston Town Centre market
Parliament and Big Ben across from the River Thames
The London Eye along the River Thames
Buckingham Palace
Royal Pavillion Brighton, England

Expectation 5:

Since I was never homesick when I went to LVC, so I won’t be homesick going to Kingston University.

Reality 5:

Although this one seems bad, it’s actually a good thing. I am very homesick; I call my mom every day for hours, something I have never done before. When I remember I’m not just at school,  and that I’m at school in another country, I begin to panic. BUT yes, this is good. It’s good because it’s making me stronger- one of the reasons I wanted to go abroad in the first place. It’s making me realize how lucky I am to have amazing parents and an amazing family of biological and non biological members. It’s making me realize that it’s okay to get lost because, after a lot of wandering around, I’ll always find my way back home. And it’s making me realize I can push through things, no matter how hard it may seem, because I won’t give up on myself or my situation.