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Time July 20th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A lot has happened since I was last able to blog…life has been a crazy mess of exams, packing & travelling home, plus adjusting to life in the States.

Exam period at Leeds was crazy. My 5 exams were spread out over 3 weeks, so I had  a lot of time to study. Before any of my sit-down exams, I turned in my final paper for History of Mathematics. I ended up with a 2.1 in the class (B+) and really wish I could have gotten my last 3 assignments back. Two of the were semester assignments that they didn’t get graded before the end, and then of course my final paper. I would love to see their comments and markings, but no can do. My last 4 exams were spread out over 3 weeks, so I loved being able to study for one at a time. My professors gave me good review material, for the most part, and Leeds makes past exams available, which was really helpful. I got firsts on the rest of my exams (A) which of course, I am really happy about. After I sat them, I wasn’t positive how well I had done, and waiting a month to find out was really hard. But otherwise, I’m really happy with how my semester ended academically.

After exams, I had 2 1/2 weeks before I headed back to the States. I spent a lot of time with my friend & her family, visiting different towns & historical sites. We went to Harewood House, which was absolutely amazing. My last weekend with them was kind of hard…I miss them a lot now. We Skyped for the first time since I left last Saturday. Just hearing their accents made me miss England a lot more.

Being home has been great, though. I’ve loved being with my family again, and we even went on vacation together over the 4th. I thought I would have more issues with jet lag, but I didn’t fall asleep on the plane or until I got home, which was midnight US time or 5 am UK time. I slept in the next day, but never felt bad. Oh the luxuries of being young :0)

Other than missing England & wishing I could go back soon…the transition has been really smooth. I think I adjust to change pretty well, so I didn’t experience culture shock when I got there or once I got back. I am so thankful that I was able to experience all that I did…study abroad is an experience I will never forget!

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Mixed Emotions

Time May 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

picture of Ilkley moors

Ilkley Moors

Mixed emotions. That’s the best phrase I can use to describe how I feel lately. In just four weeks I’ll be headed home, and I cannot begin to explain how much I miss my family. Home sickness didn’t really start for me until a week ago. And even now, I don’t know if what I feel is homesick, or just an overwhelming excitement to be with my family again. Because at the same moment, it’s hard to imagine leaving England with no definite plans of coming back. I love it here. I’m going to miss the cities, the history, the people. I’m going to miss being surrounded by their accents and yes, I’ll even miss riding the bus…although, I can’t say I’ll miss it very much. The past four months have been the greatest experience of my life. Yet there is so much more I wish I could do. There is so much more I wish I could see. How can I be so happy and sad to leave all at once?

I guess the only thing I can do is cherish the good in both. Cherish the excitement that keeps building up until the day I get to hold my family instead of just seeing them on the screen of a computer. Cherish the four weeks left and use every opportunity to soak it all in. Cherish the memories I have made and the friendships that won’t be torn apart by 4,000 miles. Cherish the dream that someday I will be back.

There are so many promises held in the hands of someday. Jesus, please cherish our somedays.

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A British Love Affair

Time May 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I think the British have a love affair with the letter S. First, I noticed that instead of saying “math” they say “maths.” I guess that kind of makes sense, since we do say “mathematics” and not “mathematic.” Still, it took me quite a while to get used to saying I was a maths major. Then I started noticing that many words that we spell with the “ize” ending, Brits spell with an “ise” ending; like organize/organise, realize/realise, recognize/recognise. According to good-ole Wikipedia, both spellings are acceptable in the UK, but I don’t think the same goes for the States…”ize” is standard. But the one that really bugs me is on the homework sheets most of my professors hand out. At Butler, they usually title them “Homework 3”, “Exercise Set 4”, or something similar. But no…every single one of my lecturers labels homework either “Examples 3” or “Exercises3”. Ugh…yes, you can’t say “Example 3” because that makes it sound like you have one example, and “3 Exercises” makes it sound like there are only 3. But “Examples/Exercises 3” just doesn’t sound right. Just add the extra word “Set” or call it “Homework” and I will have no complaints.

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10 British Foods

Time April 26th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

For the most part, British food is the same as American food, but there are some foods that seem unique to the British palate or are food obsessions.

1) Curry
In Leeds, there are curry shops everywhere! Some of them are chain restaurants, like Jaldi-Jaldi, but the smaller takeaway (carryout) shops dot every corner. Chicken Tikki Masala is the #1 British food right now, not fish & chips (I’ll get to that later). For those of you who don’t know what curry is, it’s an oriental dish that is made of bite-size portions of meat simmered in a sauce & served with rice or noodles. The sauce is what makes it curry, and it’s full of spices and usually thick. I absolutely love it! My perception of its popularity may be a little skewed though, since my second family has a Jamaican heritage and likes things spicy (in general, the British are known to have a bland palate). I don’t think curry is very popular in the US, but if you want to try something new & amazing, find a good Indian restaurant.

2) Potatoes
I live in catered student housing, meaning I eat most of my meals in a cafeteria. So I’m not positive whether potatoes are a British food obsession or of they are just trying to fill is with carbs. Either way, they serve them every night & occasionally at breakfast. Most popular are chips (our equivalent to steak fries), but we also have them boiled, mashed, mashed then deep fried as fat stick, served as hash browns, or oven baked to crispy goodness. They haven’t served scalloped potatoes yet, so maybe that is an American thing.

3) Fish & Chips
Fish & chips is to the UK what pizza is to the US. If you don’t feel like cooking, get fish & chips takeaway. Skip the ketchup (ok, only sometimes…I still love the sweet, tangy dip), and go for salt & vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, or a sweet chili sauce. All the above are delicious!

4) Pastries
When I hear the word pastry, my thoughts go towards a sweet dessert. Here, pastries are often meat filled and served for lunch. Instead of stopping at McDonalds for a quick bite, find a local pastry shop. Prices are really cheap, although its not the healthiest option, and you can eat on the go. While you’re there, see of they also sell flapjacks. Flapjacks are not pancakes, but rather oat bars, and extremely good!

5) Mint
Mint is something I would consider unique to the English palate…or at least it doesn’t really fancy mine. It’s most often served with lamb, as a dipping sauce or baked into the gravy of a mint pie. I’ve tried both ways, and neither was really a favorite, but perhaps it’s just me.

6) Tuna
Growing up, we didn’t eat a lot of tuna, so maybe that’s why I don’t fancy it. But tuna seems to be on every lunch menu here. They serve it traditionally on a sandwich…but the huge shocker for me was a tuna jacket potato. Jacket Potato = Baked Potato Why would anyone in their right mind want tuna on a baked potato? Curry jacket potato, yes please! Chili jacket potato, yum! Cheese jacket potato, yes! Tuna jacket potato……..what?!?

7) Scones
Loveliness! That’s all I need to say. In the US, I was used to the dry, hard, triangle shaped scones served at Starbucks that definitely must accompany a drink, but are good none the less. Here, scones are much lighter, softer, and just plane delicious. They remind me more of a sweet biscuit, which Britain doesn’t really an equivalent of. Biscuits & gravy is a crazy concept to them, because what they call biscuits we call cookies (or tea biscuits), and they don’t often use a white gravy. I was so happy to introduce that recipe to the Miller family! Nana & Pops, you would be well received in their house!

8) Spreads
The British love sauces and spreads! At the grocery store, a full isle will be dedicated to fruit preserves, chutneys, and other sauces. At a really nice restaurant we went to for Rachel’s birthday, once they delivered our meals the server came back with a plate full of spread & sauces for us to put on our plate. Oh, and they have marmite, which is a dark brown, sticky, salty, & savory spread made from yeast extract. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s common knowledge that you either love it or hate it.

9) Custards
Pudding (which refers to dessert in general & not just the milk-based food) is often served with a custard, yoghurt, or other sauce to pour on top. It doesn’t matter if it is cake, pie, brownies, or sometimes fruit…drench it! I personally love this, since brownies in a bowl of milk and tres leches cake are some of my personal favorites. Ambrosia is a popular brand of rice puddings & custards that I love.

10) Italian-Style Pizzas
Although there are some US chain pizza restaurants (Pizza Hut & Dominos), I think Italian-style is more popular. By Italian-style, I mean thin crust and amazing toppings. I think I prefer it this way, because the toppings are usually fresh & the main attractions, as opposed to focussing on lots of crust, sauce, and cheese. But I also miss stuffed crust…which in my book reigns supreme.

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My Pride & Prejudice

Time March 9th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen. Which means you can quickly deduce that I’m a bit of a romantic. I’m currently rereading Pride & Prejudice, and I just picked up the movie for $4.50…it’s been my favorite movie for years, but I’m too much of a tight-wad to spend $10 on a movie, so I’ve been looking to find it on sale for a long time. And I finally did! Yay…….until I put it in my laptop and find out that apparently DVD’s are coded with the country they are sold in. At first it wouldn’t play, because it said I wasn’t allowed to play it in my region. Ok, bought it in the UK, I’m in the UK…but obviously my computer must still be set to the US. So I changed it to default to UK. Ok, good, temporarily fixed. But, I can only change that setting on my laptop 4 times, and regular DVD players in the US might not play it. Big bummer…but at least I have it to watch while I’m here. I might just leave it with a friend when I go back and continue my search for one on sale back home.

Ok, so enough about my experience with DVD’s and back to the purpose of the post. For those of you who aren’t Pride & Prejudice fans, sorry, this post is a bit themed. I love the 2005 version of the movie (and yes, for those who know there is a difference between the US ending and other countries, I love the romantic US one :0). So my goal is to visit as many of the houses that were used to in the film as I can. I thankfully found a blog (myprideandprejudice.com) that describes each of them.

Longbourn: The home of the Bennet family

Longbourn

I would love to live here! It’s not nearly as large & stately as the other manors in the movie, but it seems like a house you could actually live in! The actual house is Groombridge Place in the county of Kent, which is southeast of London and borders the sea. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful, 300 year home surrounded by a moat? Sounds dreamy to me!

Rosings: the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, aunt of Darcy

Rosings

The home of Lady Catherine is definitely one of pomp and not such a welcoming place. But still, it’s history and overall splendor make it appealing. It was played by Burghley House in Lincolnshire, which is a county that borders York and is only 2 hours southeast of Leeds.

Netherfield: the home rented by Bingley in the neighborhood of the Bennets

Netherfield

I didn’t realize that huge estates could be rented, but that is precisely what Bingley was doing until he decided upon one to permanently live in. Netherfield was played by Basildon Park in Berskshire, which is just west of London.

Pemberley (inside): Darcy’s estate

Pemberley (inside)

The manor they used to film the outside of Pemberley is such an iconic estate that it was difficult to spend much time filming there, so they did most of the interior shots at another location. For most of the scenes, the inside of Pemberley was played by Wilton House in Salisbury, which is southwest of London.

Pemberley: the estate of Darcy

Pemberley

Darcy’s home is definitely the most breathtaking of all the large estates in the movie. The exterior shots, and some of the interior (such as the art collection of statues), were all shot at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which is a little over an hour south of Leeds. Derbyshire is where Jane Austen said Darcy lived, and many suppose Chatsworth was the actual estate she modeled Pemberley after.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to see all of them…but I definitely want to go to at least a few! Not to mention Jane Austen’s Home, which has been turned into a museum for her. All in all, I feel so blessed to be in a country that has been the source of my inspiration and dreams for so long!

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Photo Tour of University of Leeds

Time February 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Bus stop

Picture 1 of 39

Since I live 3 miles from campus, buses are my lifeline to almost everything!

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Little Differences

Time February 13th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’ve tried to remember as many of the little differences as I can between English and American culture. Here are the main one’s I’ve noticed so far:

Words:
American vs. British

Trunk (car) vs. Boot
Elevator vs. Lift
Biscuits vs. Cookies
Cell Phone vs. Telly
Mail vs. Post
Call (a person on the phone) vs. Ring
French Fries vs. Chips
Chips vs. Crisps
“Have a good day!” vs. “Cheers!” or “Cheerio!”
Friend vs. Mate (apparently not just an Australian thing :0)
To Rent (apartment vs. To Let
Grilled Cheese vs. Cheese Toastie
Line vs. Queue

I’ll add others as I think of them. But overall, adjusting to English culture hasn’t been that difficult. Sometimes I forget I’m the foreigner and find it funny when they can’t understand my accent. It takes me a minute for my brain to digest the fact that I’m the one with the accent…not them.

As far as accents go, I can distinguish where people are from, for the most part. People from southern England, especially London, have a more westernized accent that is really easy to understand. The others British people often call them “posh.” Those from northern England can be harder to understand, especially when they are speaking quickly or in a big group. People from Wales and Scotland have distinct accents too…but I think the easiest ones to pick out are the Irish. Their accent, in my opinion, is by far the best! I haven’t purposely tried to pick up on an accent yet, mostly for the fear of failing horribly! :0) But I do notice every now and then a word slips out that has a British sound to it. Secretly, I would love to come home with a full-blown British accent, but I want that to happen naturally. We shall see!

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Stonehenge & Winchester

Time February 8th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This last weekend I went on the IFSA organized day-trip to Stonehenge and Winchester. My morning started out bright and early at 3:30. Since the group was leaving from London and I’m in Leeds, we had to first travel there and arrive before the buses were departing. I caught a cab to the train station with two other IFSA study abroad students who are at the University of Leeds. We live far enough out of town that it’s not feasible to walk (especially at that time of the night) and the buses aren’t running at that time, so the cab was our only option. We had a 2 1/2 hour train ride to Kings Cross station in central London. We arrived in time to freshen-up a little and catch breakfast, then we had to catch another cab to the IFSA-England office in Notting Hill. From there, we hoped on a bus with the other students who were going on the trip–there were probably around 100 in total from university across England.

I think the trip to Stonehenge took about 2 hours, although I slept most of the time. Stonehenge is in the middle of the country west of London. When we got there, it was absolutely freezing! No snow was falling, which was fortunate since the forecast had called for “severe weather” all day. We actually didn’t end up getting any snow until we were back in London, so we were really lucky.

Stonehenge was beautiful! A lot of people were there, besides us, and the area around it was obviously catered towards tourists. You are able to walk along a path that winds around the circle, getting close at some points then stretching farther out at others. We snapped quite a few good pictures, but once we got what we wanted, it was back to the bus. Our hands were absolutely frozen! I did make a quick stop at the souvenir shop to buy a postcard, but sadly I lost it sometime during the day. I’ll have to go back and get me another one when the weather is a little warmer! :0)

Next we traveled about an hour south-east to Winchester. There, we were given free-reign to explore the city for about 3 hours. It was past 1:00 and we were starving, so our first goal was to find food. We ate at No. 11, which had great food but was really busy, so it took us quite a while. That gave us only about an hour and 1/2 to see everything we wanted to…and by-golly, we did it! :0)

First we went to Winchester Cathedral, where many famous people are buried and the cathedral itself holds a lot of historical items and is just gorgeous. A high school orchestra and choir were in the main area performing, which sounded amazing with the acoustics of the building. My favorite author, Jane Austen, is buried there, so it was really special to see the exhibit about her life and death. I was awe struck by the amazing architecture inside the building. The Cathedral itself and the various religious items it held were so artistically constructed. After we had spent about 45 minutes going throughout the building, we decided to book it to the Great Hall in time to see King Arthur’s Round table. To be honest, I don’t know much about King Arthur, but it was really awesome to see such an iconic part of history.

On our way back to the buses, we took the time to stop at a genuine “sweet shop” along the way. It was absolutely adorable and perfect! I couldn’t decide on one thing, so I ended up buying a grab-bag of mixed sweets. Some of the others bought fudge and chocolate goodies, which they said were delicious. On the way back to London, I passed out again. I think my little power naps were the only way I survived the day on such little sleep!

From Notting Hill Gate, we took the tube back to Kings Cross and thankfully had time to catch dinner before we headed back to Leeds. It was a long day, and once I got back to my room a quickly collapsed on my bed and was out. I was so grateful to IFSA for organizing everything for us. It has been wonderful to be part of an actual study abroad group instead of being completely independent. They really make transitions feel much smoother and plan so many events that make the whole experience easier!

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They Have Milkmen

Time January 30th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Even though we speak the same language, are born from shared heritage, and from looks appear the same…England has so many things unique to itself.

Like milkmen. I thought they no longer existed. With the rapid growth of supermarkets and decline of hometown grocery stores, I am pretty sure the profession has completely phased out in the US. Not so in England. When I think about getting milk delivered, I imagine glass bottles, wire baskets, and empty ones waiting outside for replacement. To my surprise, that’s exactly the same image as what happens today. Ok, I can’t say for sure what the milkman looks like, but the whole idea is quaint and lovely!

milkman

Another thing I didn’t expect was for England to live up to all it’s stereotypes. Yes, people often describe England as rainy and a land overflowing with tea. But I’ve heard many descriptions of the US (cowboys…lazy…rough public schools) that aren’t true. Yet England is living up to it’s name. It rains almost every day. Although when I say rain, I mean more of a constant hard mist. It hasn’t rained once like I’m used to…downpours of soaking drops…but almost everyday the overcast sky lets down some precipitation. As for tea, they literally drink it all the time. And almost everyone seems to enjoy it, with the occasional exception. I absolutely love it, as long as they give some allowance for cream and sugar. The usual saying when you first enter a home or place of conversation is “Would you like a cup of tea?” This is usually followed by an offer of “biscuits” or cookies as we call them in the states. Kitchens come standard with a kettle so that warm water is only a few seconds away.

tea and biscuits

The last thing I’ve noticed is the difference in use of words. There aren’t many words here that I’ve never heard before, outside of some foods that are new to me. But they often call things differently. Flat instead of apartment. Biscuits never go with gravy. Chips instead of fries…and they eat those with everything. The car has a bonnet and boot, instead of a hood and trunk. Cheers and cheerio are normal salutations. Charity shops instead of thrift stores. And many others that I can think of at the present.

All in all…I’m loving life here in England. I’m sure it’s bound to just get better.

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Start of Class

Time January 25th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This week was the start of classes at Leeds and I’ve been to all mine at least once. Most of my classes just meet several times a week in normal lectures like I’m used to. Well, normal in the fact that the professors stand at the front of the room and….lecture. Not normal in the fact that all of them are in lecture halls with 60-100 people. I’ve never been in a math class larger than 30, and that was just one. Almost all the rest of mine have been somewhere between 8 and 15. I only know of two actual “lecture halls” at Butler. All of the classes I’m in here in Leeds are in lecture halls like you see in the movies. We sit in theater seating and the professors use large projectors and movable white boards to teach. The funny thing is that in the building I’m in, the lecture halls are situated on the front and back of the building along 4 different staircases. You enter the room through skinny doors along the stairs that go strait into the different rows. It is possible to go in the bottom door and walk across the front, then go up the stairs on the other side of the room and pick a row then, but I usually just sit in row B or C and enter from the stairs. Next week we start having workshops, which are smaller group meetings where we can talk about homework problems and ask questions. Today is my free day, which I’m taking full advantage of. I cannot wait for a day to relax and catch up on some reading :0)

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Pictures of Leeds & London

Time January 18th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I didn’t realize until after I had published my last post that I’m not able to go back and add pictures…so instead, I’m adding them separately to this post.

Friday & Saturday
Pictures from when we arrived in Leeds and then traveled by train to London

Sunday
Pictures from the one day I spent exploring London with my mom before she went back to the states

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Catching Up

Time January 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I have quite a bit of catching up to do! So apologies for such a long post, but this is my first free moment where I’ve had time to catch a breath and write.

Friday

My mom and I arrived in Leeds Friday morning with no problems. The pastor that I had made contact with was there, with his wife and daughter, to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. It was a great opportunity to get to know them and ask some questions about England. Once we settled in, we decided to take a walk around the city. Leeds is absolutely beautiful…and much larger than I expected! But the public transportation system is wonderful and we either walked or rode buses everywhere.

We walked around the city square some and visited the train station, where we bought our tickets to London. Then we hopped on a bus and rode to the university. We almost missed our stop because the university buildings almost blended in perfectly with the rest of the city. The campus is absolutely gorgeous! It’s more urban than Butler, because it’s connected to downtown, but at the same time it gives off that distinct academic atmosphere.

Since it’s such a large university (35,000 students), I expected there to be lots of roads and for the buildings to be spread far apart. But in reality, everything is catered towards pedestrians, and although there are a lot of buildings and people around, everything is relatively compact and enjoyable to walk around. I found the building where most of my classes will be in, although we did not visit where I will be staying because it is farther off campus.

That night we ate at Bella Italia, which was delicious, and walked through the shopping district. Before long, our lack of sleep caught up with us and we turned in for the night.

Saturday

We had planned on getting up early to visit the shopping district while shops were open, but ended up sleeping in a little. We did have time to go out, and I was really excited to visit the Leeds City Kirkgate Market. It’s an indoor market with various food and other shops all throughout. I didn’t buy anything, but I am sure I will be back later this semester.

That afternoon we rode the train to London, which ended up taking us most of the evening to arrive at our hotel. We took the tube to Heathrow and from there rode a bus to our hotel.

Sunday

This was the day I was looking forward to the most…exploring London with my mom!

The night before, we made a list of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. Since my mom was only going to be in London for one day, we wanted to make sure we hit most of the big things. After looking at the tube maps and deciding on our time schedule, this was our list of to dos:

  1. Find the IFSA-England Office (that way I wouldn’t have to do this alone for the first time on Monday)
  2. Visit the Natural History Museum (mostly to see the architecture, not the exhibits)
  3. Visit the Victoria & Albert Museum (Mom was really excited to go to an art museum)
  4. Visit the National Gallery (and see Trafalgar square)
  5. Visit the British Museum (I was excited to get to see the Rosetta Stone)
  6. See Big Ben
  7. See the Houses of Parliament (it was Sunday, so it wasn’t open for us to go in)
  8. See Westminster Abbey (which also is not open for tours on Sundays)
  9. See Buckingham Palace (isn’t open during the winter)

My favorite was seeing Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. We saved them for last because it didn’t matter what time of day we saw them since we couldn’t go in. But they were absolutely gorgeous! They just took my breath away!

Mom loved the National Gallery. We went on a free tour there and had a great guide. It was a large group, so our guide had us look at three large paintings. He explained some information about them, but then let us do the “figuring out” and allowed us to ask questions. It was a really fun and interactive experience, and we did learn a lot.

We hadn’t eaten any fish and chips yet, so we ordered them for room service that night…and I must say, they were wonderful!

Monday

My mom flew out this morning from Heathrow, which was kind of a hard experience. When I left home, it didn’t quite feel like I was saying goodbye to my family yet, because my mom was still with me. Once she left this time, it really hit home that I was on my own in England, which is a both sad and exciting feeling. I made it to the IFSA office with only a few tube problems. I think I may have built up some muscles though, carry my three bags up all those stairs. Several people were kind enough to stop and lend me a hand. I was really grateful for that!

Once I arrived at the office, Oran explained our schedule and walked me to my hotel accommodations. Being here has really made me appreciate the Marriott and Rennaissance hotels we have stayed in so far. The rooms are very small, but they will do for the next two days.

We had some free time this afternoon, so I walked around with the other Leeds students as they got their cell phones. I had already picked one up in Leeds, but I think we all ended up with very similar ones.

We ate dinner at Pizza Express with the whole IFSA group and had a great time. There are only 11 students here right now for orientation, so everyone is getting to know each other. Afterwards, some of the group went out, but I decided to come back to the hotel and update you all!

So far, I have loved almost everything about England! Things can be a little expensive at times, but everything is so beautiful and people are just everywhere. I am excited to actually be on campus and to get to know Leeds a little better. This next weekend I’m traveling to Glasgow, Scottland with the pastor and his family to attend a youth rally there. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to experience so much in such a little time.

I promise to write more often and add some pictures to this post once I’m in a full internet environment. Right now, I just paid a pound to use 20 minutes, so I’m trying to be wise with my time.

Until then,

Erica

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Layovers

Time January 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The journey has begun!

We left from Indianapolis this morning and flew on our first flight to Detroit. It was a quick ride, only 45 minutes. Now we have a 3 1/2 hour layover and are grabbing lunch. The excitement is building!

Packing was a little crazy, but I managed to fit everything I needed. Wanted…not so much…but I’m really glad I was able to fit the important things. It only took me a day, which was surprising. But we kept buying the little things I needed right up until we left. Finding room to stuff them in my suitcase was interesting! But they both made weight and I was able to carry everything myself.

My mom is flying over with me to stay a couple of days. We are arriving early in Leeds, then traveling later to London so I can be there for orientation. That is where my mom will fly out and head back home. Our flight in takes us to Amsterdam, where we have another 3 hour layover. We will arrive there at 12:00 am our time, but 6:00 am their time. At least we won’t have a problem catching some zzzz’s in the airport. We will probably be wiped out by then after our 8 hour flight.

I’m really excited to actually be there! And to have my mom with me. We are best friends, and I’m really grateful that she gets to experience part of this with me. Leaving home was kind of hard, but knowing that when I come back, I get to spend the whole summer with them has made it easier. And Skype is a great way to stay connected!

Now we just have to stay occupied for another hour and a half…I think I might sneak in a cat nap. :0)

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Getting to Know Me

Time January 11th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It’s five days before I leave for England, and obviously a lot is on my mind. Before I share some of my preparations and excitement, I thought I would give a brief introduction to who I am.

I am the third child of six. Being a part of a large family has been so much fun. My two older brothers are married and I found out this Christmas that I’m going to be an aunt for the first time. Thankfully, the baby isn’t due until I get back from being abroad, but I am a little sad that I will miss the months of preparation. We are all very close and being the first grandchild, I’m sure the whole family will want to be a part. I am a Junior at Butler University and I’m studying mathematics to become a college professor. That means I’ll be in college for the rest of my life. At least it feels that way some times…yet I love it! I’ve been looking at graduate schools recently, but mainly I’m enjoying my time at Butler.

Besides school, I’m really involved in both the churches I attend (one at home and one at school). I teach 4-6 year old’s during Children’s Church, help out with the youth occasionally, sing on the praise team and in the choir, and help out in any other ways needed. I’m also part of several clubs on campus that are focused on volunteering or mathematics. I work on campus during the school year in a department that helps staff and students learn how to use technology. If you haven’t guessed, I’m a bit of a nerd and geek…and my mom can receive all the credit for that.

While I’m abroad, I will still be studying mathematics at Leeds University and working on my thesis. As part of the honor program at Butler, I am writing a thesis on cubic graphs and their important applications. I’ve been in contact with a professor in London who wrote several papers on cubic graphs, so hopefully I will be visiting him later this semester for an interview. I will definitely share that experience on here!

My mom and I are arriving in England a few days before the official start of the IFSA-Butler program. We are arriving in Leeds Friday morning, then she will be flying out of Heathrow Monday morning. We are hoping to get to know Leeds a little the day and a half we are there, then exploring London for a day before she goes back home. I’m really excited that she gets to share part of this experience with me.

Am I ready to leave? Ummm…that is a resounding no. I haven’t packed anything yet, although there is a pile that’s been growing in my room of things I might want to take. Now whether or not it will all fit in my suitcase, that’s a problem I don’t want to think about yet. I’ve been going through all my emails and newsletters to make sure I have all the paperwork and information I need. I’m still putting together a packet of all the important documents and papers that I will need with me abroad. I’m a bit of an organization freak, if you can’t tell.

Sometimes I get nervous when I think about being away from my family for so long. Being so close to them, I know it’s going to be hard at times. I also know that we will keep in contact as much as we can, so that will really help. I go to school three hours away from home, which is far enough to limit my trips home to at most every other weekend. But I’ve never been away from home for longer than a month at a time. Right now, I’m not really worried about all that. The excitement of actually being in England is a little overwhelming! I’ve dreamed of going to England since I was in middle school. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, the 2005 movie. I mapped out the houses used to film the movie and I cannot wait to visit. Not to mention Jane Austen’s house just outside of greater London. Aaaahhhhh! It’s hard to believe that it’s actually happening! Sounds so cliche…but it’s true. When you think about and dream of doing something for such a long time, your brain doesn’t always catch up when it all starts to come true.

I’m going to start packing Monday, so once I have everything put together and ready to go, I’ll try to remember to write up another post before I leave.

Until then…

Erica

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important”
Aibileen Clark, The Help

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