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Home Sweet Home

Time May 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

And just like that, I am back in Indiana.

Woah.

Since my last post, I finished up my final papers (WAHOO!), traveled to Poland and France with my dad, said bye to my friends, and flew back to the good ol’ US of A.

It’s kind of hard to comprehend that my semester in Leeds has ended, and that I am actually back on U.S. soil again. I never knew that five months could go so quickly, but I can easily say that studying abroad was the best decision I have made since going to Vanderbilt.

This should probably be my longest blog post out of all of them since I feel like I have so much to say, but I think it may be one of my shortest.  Although I have grown so much, it is difficult to convey the depth of such change. All I can tell you is that is has entirely changed my life for the better, and I would not trade these last five months for anything. I met incredible people, went to incredible places, ate incredible food, and watched a lot of Modern Family. How could you get any better than that?

So if there is anyone out there who is on the fence about studying abroad, DO IT. Don’t hesitate at all. There are life-changing experiences just waiting to happen to you – you just have to take the plunge.  Obviously not all of it will be perfect, and I hope that my blog has represented both the highs and lows of being abroad, but even the lows make it worth it. Those are sometimes the moments when you learn the most.

So to conclude my final blog post, I would like to thank my friends and family who have read this blog, and who made my semester so incredible. I am a very lucky gal.

Good luck to all who plan to study abroad in the future!!

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far, unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within” – Lillian Smith

Until Next Time,

Madeline

P.S. I am including some pictures from my final weeks in Leeds/Europe. I hope you enjoy them!

My friend and I at a Manchester United game!

My friend and I went to a Manchester United game!!

Day trip to York!

Day trip to York

Fun night at the Old Bar in the University of Leeds Student Union!

Fun night at the Old Bar in Leeds Student Union!

Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

The Louvre

The Louvre

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Paris

Paris

My dad’s birthday dinner in Paris!

My dad's birthday dinner in Paris! Yummm

Final afternoon tea with my friends in Leeds! They are amazing :)

Final day with friends in Leeds!! Having afternoon tea :)
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Manchester United Win!

Time April 26th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A video from Old Trafford Stadium after Man U beat Aston Villa for the championship win!


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Video Blog Update!

Time April 25th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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Modern Nomad

Time April 10th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Holy moly where to even begin…I guess I can start with I AM BACK IN LEEDS!

The past three weeks were literally indescribable, which is going to make writing this blog post a difficult task. Life as a modern nomad was better than anything I could have asked for, AND I only ruined/lost one pair of shorts, one pair of boots, my gloves, and my iPhone. Horrah!

The timeline for this trip was as follows: One night in London for an Avett Brothers concert, a weekend in Dublin for St. Patty’s day, four nights in Cork, five nights in Mallorca, 6 nights in Seville for Holy Week, and 5 nights in Budapest to wrap it all up. (Side note that I am really proud of: the only suitcase I used for the entire three week trip was a carry on that never weighed more than 9kg. Accomplishing that feat may be my greatest achievement to date).  Instead of giving you EVERY detail of EVERY aspect of EVERY place, I am going to just type out my three favorite parts of each location. My mom had me do this when we first Skyped once I had returned and I thought it was a pretty swell idea!

-London, England: Well since I was only there for one night, my options are limited. Fortunately the Avetts were there so they can just take up all of the favorites for London. Oh! I almost forgot that I met/got the autograph of Grace Potter the opener for the Avetts! That was pretty cool, but the Avetts still get two of the three allotted London favorites.

-Dublin, Ireland: First favorite was for sure seeing my friends from Vanderbilt that I had not seen in months! Reunions are great. Second favorite was the pair of shorts seen in the picture below (obviously my friend in the picture loved them too). Most necessary purchase thus far since being abroad. Third favorite was just being in Dublin for St. Patty’s day. What an incredible vibe!

St. Patty's Day outfit!

-Cork, Ireland: This is a slightly vague first favorite, but Cork is the first (and only) place that I have ever traveled outside of the states and thought, “man I could totally live here,” so the entire time there was really special for me. Second favorite(s) were the day trips that we took. We went to Blarney, Cohb, and Kinsale, so I really felt like I saw a decent amount of the southern coastline. Third favorite was the shower in the hostel we stayed at. You know those really great faucets that only work for like 4 seconds at a time, and to keep the water going to have to press it 30 times per minute? That was our shower. All kidding aside though, I actually did secretly love it because it saved me from wasting a lot of water, and it made the showers in Mallorca seem like a dream.

-Mallorca, Spain: First favorite was the weather. Holy guacamole it was amazing. Neither my arms nor my legs had seen sunlight in months, so wearing shorts and tank tops in hot weather was liberating. Second favorite was the food (the good and the bad). I had true Spanish food at a tapas bar called Patxi’s (or something like that). Every single piece of food that was on any plate near the vicinity of my friends and I was inhaled that evening, including the dessert, as seen below:

Before, and after.

The dessert at Patxi's before...   ...and after

Though every eating experience in Mallorca was not so magical. One restaurant we ate at advertised a three course meal for 10 Euro. Two of my friends got it, and when dessert time rolled around the waitress came out and told them that each girl got an orange for dessert. What made it even better was when the waitress said, “Oranges are the dessert of Spain!” to convince us that this was totally normal and not a rip off at all… but it all worked out because even though we made a few enemies at that restaurant, we got a hilarious memory. Third favorite was a hike that I took with one of my friends. We hiked for about 4 hours to a small town called Deia, and the views that we saw on that hike were to die for. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

On the hike from Port de Soller to Deia!   Made it to Deia!

-Seville, Spain: First favorite was everything that had to do with Holy Week. Since all of the pictures/videos I got from the festivities were on my iPhone (R.I.P), just Google Holy Week Seville to see what it is like. It is truly a cultural experience. Second favorite was the hostel we stayed at. It was always jam packed with people, which made it so much fun!!! We stayed in a 10 bed mixed room, and although I could not live in a situation like that my entire life, it was perfect for a fun week in Spain. Third favorite was the night that I got my iPhone stolen. Although I did get my phone stolen…and I did end up accusing about seven men in the bar of stealing my phone…and I did get at least two of those most-likely-innocent men kicked out of the bar (again, so sorry about that), it was a GREAT time!

-Budapest, Hungary: First favorite was the fact that my friends and I thought that the Castle District was just a giant hill covered in castles. It ends up that it’s really just a residential area, and in fact, there is only one castle in Budapest, and it doesn’t even look like a castle. Whoops. Second favorite was the Rudas bath we went to. Though Szechenyi is their largest and most famous bath, Rudas was definitely my favorite. We went on a Tuesday, and unbeknownst to us, bathing suits are optional on Tuesdays since they are women-only days. We were in for a HUGE surprise when we walk into the baths and 80% of the women were entirely in the nude. After the first incredibly awkward 10 minutes of you-shouldn’t-stare-but-you-can’t-help-but-stare, we relaxed and ended up loving the experience. It also helped that the average age in the room was about 55 years old, so we all felt like Victoria’s Secret models for the first time in our lives. My last but not least Budapest favorite was going to one of their ruin pubs. It was loaded with people, and everyone was just relaxed and having a great time. I could have stayed there all night, and this is coming from a girl who gets claustrophobic in a club after about 8 seconds.

Even though I have listed off so many favorites, I  left out the most important one: becoming so close with the girls I traveled with. All of the incredible places I visited would have been nothing without the people I went with, and the fact that they dealt with me for three weeks is something I will forever be grateful for. I can promise them that I will never ever ever ever forget those three weeks.

So there you have it! My super abbreviated three weeks of traveling. I’m throwing in a few more of my favorite pictures at the end of this post along with the cheesiest (yet equally awesome) quote I have posted yet.

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles” – Tim Cahill (the author, not the Australian football player)

Until next time,

Madeline

Grace Potter autograph!

Grace Potter signature made it home!

Quote from the Guinness Factory in Dublin

Quote from the Guinness Factory

Kissing the Blarney Stone!

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Lake near Blarney Castle

Lake near Blarney Castle

Port de Soller (Mallorca)

Port de Soller in Mallorca

Me in front of the Palma Cathedral

Me in front of the Palma Cathedral

Port de Soller (again)

Port de Soller in Mallorca

My boots made it all the was to Budapest before coming apart. So thankful for that!

My boot almost made it to the end!

Pictures from the House of Terror museum in Budapest. Such an incredible exhibit.

Pictures from the House of Terror exhibit in Budapest

The one castle in Budapest! And it doesn’t even look like a castle…

Buda Castle (or the Royal Palace)
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M.I.A.

Time March 12th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well the time has come for my Easter break. WAHOOOOOOOOOOOO

I will be going M.I.A for three weeks, beginning with an Avett Brother’s concert, and then continuing on to Ireland, Spain, and Hungary.

This past weekend I had practice going M.I.A. during the IFSA Butler Adventure Weekend in Wales. I had so much fun hanging with friends, and I even mountain biked! It was quite beautiful, even when I could barely pedal up the mountain’s 2nd switchback (as seen in the picture).

Wales Adventure Weekend Wales Adventure Weekend

Over the weekend I had limited access to wifi, thus I felt like I kind of earned the title of M.I.A. I feel like it helped me practice for my upcoming three weeks of traveling.In my mind, I will soon be entirely off the radar. A traveler of Europe. A blazer of trails. Though in reality my M.I.A. status is totally not real because I will have wifi at every place I’ll be staying at, I have my international calling card so I can call my parents every day, and I will be with friends the entire time so I will never technically be alone.

With that said, I’M GOING M.I.A. FOR THREE WEEKS!!!!

I will try to take many pictures and remember all of the embarrassing things that happen to me so I can write about them on here for the three people that actually read my blog (shout out to mom, dad, and boyfriend).

Well this is me saying “see ya later!” I will be back oh so soon, and hopefully with my suitcase, passport, and dignity still in hand.

Until next time,

Madeline

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from in new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

-Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

 

 

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People and Food

Time February 27th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A few days ago, I officially realized that there are two things that have made studying abroad amazing (at least for me): people and food. But it is not the food individually and the people individually that are incredible. It is the mixture of both.

Let me explain.

 

My boyfriend flew all the way from the states and visited me last week (what a sweetheart!!). We ate SO MUCH incredible food that my taste buds were exploding with happiness (Bagel sandwiches, yogurt covered pineapple, fish n’chips, humble pies, ice cream, peanut butter, sweet chili flavor chips, and SO MUCH MORE). He left on Sunday, and after I dropped him off at the train station, I walked back into the city and bought some dried fruit that he and I had discovered a few days earlier. I ate it while walking back to campus, yet it just did not taste the same as when he and I had eaten it together a few days earlier. I mean it did taste the same , but there was no magic behind it. I continued to walk home (a little disappointed), but let my mind wander to when I was meeting up with my friends later. We were going to grab dinner together at Jamie’s Italian, so my spirits lifted a little bit. I remembered how much fun my friends and I had while trying new restaurants in Leeds, binging on ice cream and chocolate together, and cooking a “no boys allowed” Valentine’s Day dinner.

That when I realized that there is something truly supernatural about eating good food with people you love. Maybe this is something I should have realized earlier in life, but I guess I’m a late bloomer. I bet that anthropologists, sociologists, biologists, and Oprah have all done some intense studies on why this is the case. But even without the scientific proof of my argument above, I am living proof that something extraordinary comes from mixing people and food together in a giant bowl of love. Especially if it’s in England.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” — Oscar Wilde

Until next time,

Madeline

 

 

 

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Long Long Way to Go

Time February 12th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This is a blog post that I have been avoiding writing since I arrived at Leeds.

I was never really scared to write about this topic. I just wanted to wait until the day that I decided that, yes, it was definitely my class, and not myself, that was bizarre.

And today was that day.

*Side note: Obviously, one professor does not represent an entire university, especially one with 30,000 students in it. The description below is one of my experience, and my experience only.*

I am in three classes: Film and Music, Global Conversations, and one that pertains to child studies that I will withhold the name of for my own protection. My class about film music is decent because the lectures go along well with what we will be assessed on, and the professor is a nice guy and knows his stuff, even though it’s slightly boring. In my second class, called “Global Conversations,” we watch movie clips, discuss things like the meaning of life, and read comics that my professor creates for us about when she worked at a bird sanctuary. **Double thumbs up** But what about the child studies class I’m taking that actually pertains to my major, you ask? Well… I can’t pretend that I am not disappointed. But it’s not disappointment in a Debbie Downer sort of way. I’m giving more of a Confused Corrine vibe.

Let me explain.

For my child studies class (as I mentioned before, I am withholding the name of the class for the protection of all included), the actual lecturer has only been there once thus far. It was the very first lecture of the semester and she was a bit of a hot mess. Sadly, her guest lecturer has been riding the exact same struggle bus. The lectures are disjointed and they lack a clear focus.  I honestly sometimes don’t even understand what we are supposed to be gaining from them. For example, the only thing I remember from last week’s lecture was that to write a paper, you need to do the following: Say what you want to say, say it, say what you’ve already said. Is it me, or does this remind you of your 6th grade English class?

So with that background in mind, let me tell you about today’s lecture. It was an muddled mess of pictures of kidnapped children, rhetorical questions about nature versus nurture, and a newspaper article that we read in class and then did not discuss. With fifteen minutes left to go, while my brain was still trying to find the connection between the pictures and the newspaper article, a song suddenly came on over the loudspeaker without explanation: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E86cxhOTfFo[/youtube]

The lecturer just stood there. I thought it was an accident. I giggled for a second to myself until I realized it was not a computer malfunction that got this song to play. I turned around in search of an explanation from my 70 classmates, yet they were all chit chatting away in their pairs and trios, acting as if nothing weird was going on. Shocked, I faced forward and attempted to obtain an explanation from the girl next to me. “Suzie,  why is the professor playing this song?”  She shrugged it off and continued chatting with her friend about a party last weekend.

WHAT?

I was literally the only one that wondered why a muffled Phil Collins was singing over the loud speaker. For four minutes and 23 seconds I wondered. The song finished, and for once I was actually interested in what the lecturer was about to say. This deserved and explanation.

“Okay students, that’s the end of class. I know it was difficult to hear so I have pile of paper here with lyrics to the song if you want them. See you next week.”

That was it.  Class was finished. Over.  Done.

Again, WHAT?

I left class with more answers than when I came in, but maybe that was his aim. At least he got me thinking…right?

As you can see, my academic experience here has been an interesting one no doubt. I bet that as the semester goes on, though, everything will become normal for me, and I will end up learning a lot from all of my classes. Hey, I’ll maybe even* download some Phil Collins music for my own enjoyment!

In honor of my class today, I will conclude with this quote:

“I can’t play anymore near like I used to, and I was a hot drummer. It doesn’t bother me, because frankly, if you get to that point where you can’t hold a drumstick properly, there are many other things in life which are far more important, like cutting a loaf of bread or a piece of cheese” — Phil Collins.

Way to have your priorities straight, Phil!

Until next time,

Madeline

*definitely not

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Suspended in error… I think…

Time February 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This is what occurred when I tried to post an 11 second video of my friend saying “Goose butt” and us giggling at a swan in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

“You have been suspended from Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University

Sorry, Madeline Whitaker, you can not access Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University as you have been suspended. If you think you’ve been suspended in error, you can contact the administrator.”

It’s like Butler knew what I was about to post…I didn’t think it was THAT inappropriate…

So instead I will post a few pictures and let your imagination do the rest.

Stratford-Upon-Avon   Stratford-Upon-Avon

Stratford-Upon-Avon   Stratford-Upon-Avon

 

 

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God Save the Queen!

Time February 4th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So tomorrow my friends and I will be booking our flights and accommodations for our 4-week Easter break trip. Yep, I said four weeks. When the time comes, I will write a wonderful blog post of all of my amazing journeys through the Spanish islands and the Irish countryside, but today I am going to give you a play-by-play of last night.

As I mentioned before, this blog is not all about the frilly parts of studying abroad. This blog is real life. Just think of me as Teresa Giudice from the Real Housewives of New Jersey, except with paler skin. And better taste in men.

So here is your super secret look into the life of a foreigner.

Three hours before bed I was really bored. I had already watched the newest episode of Millionaire Matchmaker, and since I had finished all six parts of the Barbara Walters/Monica Lewinsky interview the day earlier, I was at a loss. Since I was done watching trashy television for the day, I yearned for something more.  So I decided to look through old high school photos on Facebook. Oh those were the days…

Fifteen   Bouncy Gym   Prom, Sophomore Year

As I went through pictures, I ended up (of course) getting sad and full of thought about the wonderfully awkward days of being fifteen. (Sidenote: I felt that the word “awkward” in that last sentence was a bit mundane, so I used my computer’s thesaurus to find a better word. Check out my options and enjoy how they describe being 15 so perfectly: difficult, tricky, cumbersome, unseasonable, embarrassing, thorny, uncomfortable, graceless, and my personal favorite, delicate). When you stay in your room for too long (and stay on Facebook for too long), you forget about the world around you. Last night I did just that. I turned into a hermit while Facebook sucked me into the past. It seemed that there was no way of getting back to the future! I mean the present. Whoops, got a little ahead of myself there.

So after sulking on Facebook for ten minutes too long, I scrolled down and came across this picture that I had posted earlier this morning:

Leeds City Center

All of the sudden, I was back in Leeds. Being fifteen was great and delicate and all, but who am I kidding?! Leeds is so much better! I mean look at those buildings! And that sky! And I am only a fifteen minute walk away from all of it. After snapping back to reality, I was able to log off of Facebook and end my night by reading a good book and thinking about how excited I was to see my friends the next day. I mean who needs teenage acne when they have England!  God save the queen!

I am glad I had that moment of nostalgia though. Sometimes it feels good to think about where you came from because it makes you even more excited about where you are going.

Until next time,

Madeline

“The past is never where you think you left it” – Katherine Anne Porter

 

 

 

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Cello practicing above me…

Time January 29th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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Mangos, Liverpool, and the wise words of Johnny Depp

Time January 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This week I had the best tasting Mango I had ever had. Ever.

I was the perfect tender consistency, not too sour, not too sweet. It melted on my tongue after my first bite into its delectable flesh.

You may think that I did a sweeping romantic 2-day trip to costal Greece to find it, or maybe I ventured down to a Spanish island and picked the mango off of the vine myself. In fact, I bought it at an average grocery store in downtown Leeds.

Does that make my mango story less exciting?  Probably.

This weekend I went on a day trip to Liverpool, where as many of you know, the Beatles are from. There were museums, cathedrals, cafes, and even a ferris wheel. I did go through the Beatles museum, but after that my friends and I just walked around for a few hours and ate some yummy food, while never actually visiting Penny Lane or finding the cathedral that we were searching for.

Does that make my Liverpool trip sound less exciting? Probably.

But to me, it’s quite the contrary. I love how unromanticized my experience has been. I love how one of my friends stormed off in a tizzy in Liverpool because she was frustrated that we were stopping in a candy store.  I love how the weather has been freezing and snowy almost every day since I have been here. I love how I live in a dorm where the person above me practice the song “Edelweiss” on her cello at least 5 times a day, plenty loud enough for me to hear. I love it all.

To me, studying abroad is not about experiencing new incredible things, it’s about finding the normal in what you thought would be abnormal. It’s about realizing that yes, these places are beautiful and amazing, but nothing is ever perfect. As different as some things have been here, it is funny that when you really look at a place, your perception of it changes. It becomes normal, and for me, that’s when I know that my true experience abroad has begun.

“I was always fascinated by the people who are considered completely normal because I find them the weirdest of all”

-Johnny Depp

Until next time,

Madeline

P.S. I have included some of my pictures from Liverpool!

2013-01-26 05.55.39 2013-01-26 06.00.04 2013-01-26 07.33.04 2013-01-26 07.44.51 2013-01-26 08.05.54 2013-01-26 12.12.07

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Home is Where Your Honey is

Time January 21st, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The New York Knicks.

Knicks

Never in my life have I ever cared for even a millisecond about the New York Knicks. I really don’t care for professional basketball at all, yet even when I pretend that I do, the Pacers are my team (since I am from Indiana). Well last night, suddenly the Knicks found their way into my life.

My friends and I went to a global pub quiz at the union on campus (a place where all of the students get really involved. There are pubs, stores, clubs, cafes, basically anything. The Leeds union is pretty amazing — Check it out here: http://www.leedsuniversityunion.org.uk/). The quiz night was kinda like the trivia nights that local bars/restaurants have in the states, yet this one was for international students and it was all about global trivia. Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, I am TERRIBLE at trivia. Like horrible. I never ever get an answer right, and if I do, it’s one that 95% of the people had already figured out before they finish asking the question. So our quiz began. I was so excited to prove to myself that maybe this time I would not be terrible at trivia. As the evening developed, I realized that this dream was not going to be fulfilled because, as always, I knew none of the answers. Here is an example question:

True or False: The English’s black pudding has real blood in it.

I had never even heard of black pudding before, so as I was freaking out about just the THOUGHT of blood in something called pudding, my teammates wrote down the correct answer: true. Who would have thought??

So the night continued on with laughs, wrong answers, and group cheers until my shining moment appeared. The question came over the intercom:

Where is the team the Knicks from?

I couldn’t believe it. NEW YORK! I shouted. NEW YORK! NEW YORK! NEW YORK! NEW YORK! I did a little jig in my seat as my teammates wrote down my answer. As I mentioned previously, I seriously do not care one ounce about the Knicks, but all of the sudden, it was like the Knicks were the greatest thing that had ever come into my life. I have only been here for less than a week, and yet at that moment I realized how much I miss hearing about American things. Maybe that makes me sound slightly pathetic, especially since England is fairly similar to the US, but I was just so nice to hear about something from where I call home. Even when I go to the grocery store here, the majority of the food brands are not familiar. I can’t find my Chobani yogurt, my Triscuit Thin Crisps, or my Blueberry Morning cereal. I can’t turn on the tv and know that there will always be a college basketball game on. I can’t head to the local Books a Million and buy a copy of Psychology Today. I never expected these things to even matter to me, and yet I miss them!

With that said, I really do love it here.  I am so excited to see what the next five months has in store. It is just interesting to see that the things you barely cared about at home turn out to be what you miss the most! My Grandma’s potholder is totally right:

Home is Where Your Honey is

Hopefully I can find some new honey in Leeds!

Until Next Time,

Madeline

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While I figure out how to post a video on here…

Time January 17th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

…I will type out a quick blog!!

I am in LEEDS! WAHOO!

 

So sorry for the delay in my postings..I was too busy hanging with Harry and Ron..

Platform 9 3/4

I flew into London on Monday for the IFSA Butler orientation! It was such a fun-filled two days. We ate a lot, laughed a lot, learned a lot, and even saw One Man Two Gunors in London’s West End. It recently came to Broadway and I would 100% recommend it to you! On Wednesday we said “Cheers” to London and headed North for Leeds! It was only about a 2 and 1/2 hour train ride, and the scenery was beautiful because everything was covered in snow!

We arrived, I made it to my dorm room, and then it was off to learn about my new university! Since being here, I have learned a few things:

1) If you chant “USA, USA, USA” after singing “I Will Survive” at an English pub, you may get booed off stage.

2) Anything that can be considered a weapon is illegal or controlled in some way, including but not limited to: guns, bombs, knives, forks, pepper spray, keys, and thumbtacks.

3) English students dress like the hipsters in America, and their hair always looks great.

4) People will know you are American before you even open your mouth.

5) There is an old gothic-looking church near campus that has been turned into a dance club. I’m not sure how God, Allah, Muhammad, the Virgin Mary, Buddha, Zeus, Morgan Freeman, or any other key religious figure feels about it. So if I go there, I will in fact wear flats, loose-fitting jeans, and a turtleneck. Better safe than sorry.

I hope that this fact list has helped you understand what I have experienced here thus far! Hopefully I will learn how to upload a video soon — until then, I will leave you with a quote from Downton Abbey:

“Martha: History and tradition took Europe into a world war. Maybe you should think about letting go of its hand.”

Until next time,

Madeline

 

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It’s the climb

Time January 4th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Christmas break can never go by too slowly. I don’t know about you, but I milk the free month for all it’s worth. I have gotten at least nine hours of sleep every night for the past 2 weeks straight, and my lack of responsibilities has led to a disastrously messy bedroom and a new foosball addiction. My infatuation with this new table sport is so bad that I think I may actually be getting good at the game. Not my proudest accomplishment…

As much as I love sleeping and keeping my bedroom a dump, I also love to be outside over winter break. Here in Indiana we have gotten SO MUCH SNOW and it has made me SO HAPPY 😀 I have included some pictures below:

Indiana Snow Indiana Snow

Go ahead, make fun of my wanna-be professional photography. I’ll own it. But let’s be real, I mostly take pictures and videos of stuff because my memory is so horrible. I document my life through digital media so when I am 70 and literally have no memory I can look back on that one day when I went out into the snow and found an ornament and a candy cane hanging from a tree.

As I was saying, winter break can never go by too slowly. Though I do love going to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, it is sometimes difficult to put on my rally hat and get pumped for a new semester. College is fun, but since I am still in the midst of this undergraduate marathon, my rose-colored glasses have not arrived in the mail just yet. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the few lucky people in this world who have the amazing opportunity to study at a university, and I would never give that up for anything. Especially as an elementary education major, I truly believe that an education is the greatest gift that someone could receive. With that said, everyone could use a change every once in a while, right?

This is where Leeds University comes in.

Leeds is going to be my change. I literally have no idea what to expect. I have been to Europe twice before, but each time I took a bus tour type thing where you visit about 50 countries in three days so I am SO excited to experience a European city for an extended period of time!!! I really do not like having expectations for any experiences in my life, so instead of detailing what I think my semester will be like, let me tell you all I know about Leeds currently:

1) The Who’s 1st live album is called Live at Leeds — I assume that means super famous bands will constantly be performing right on my doorstep.

2) My grandmother’s grandmother lived in a town 10 minutes from Leeds until she decided that the United States needed to be her new home. She divorced her English husband and headed toward the U.S. with a graphic t-shirt that read “Single and ready to mingle.”

3) According to the Leeds Wikipedia page that I vaguely remember reading about 2 months ago, it has a population of 750,000ish.

4) Leeds has a professional soccer (football?) team called Leeds United — and I plan on becoming their biggest fan. (Though I do hope to go to a Manchester United home game at some point during the semester. shhhhh don’t tell.)

In 9 days I will be on my way to England with two suitcases and these four facts about Leeds. Even though I feel extremely unprepared for this semester, I know that I will enjoy all of what awaits. Just like life, studying abroad will be a journey with ups and downs, and I am so incredibly excited to share with you my thoughts, experiences, emotions, and memories as I embark on this life-changing trek.

I always enjoy ending my blog posts with a quote, and so for my first one, I will conclude with a short song lyric:

“It ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.”

Wise words from Miley Cyrus.

Or was it Voldemort?

I can’t remember.

It's the climb

 

 

Until next time,

Madeline

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