Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Did I actually do that?

Remember that time I went to England for 6 months?  Being home makes it feel like so far away – more like a dream than anything!  I found it strangely easy to get back into life in the States, but every day something or other reminds me of Canterbury.  The other day I went to the grocery store and handed them my cloth bags – only to have them put my items in a plastic bag without even asking…such a small thing was so crazy to me!

But now that I’m home, I’m incredibly happy to be reunited with the people I love and missed, but I’m not sure how starting school in a few weeks will feel – we shall see.  I think I’m in for a surprise!

Also, I’m constantly finding out things that happened while I was gone – I think it will take me a while to get caught up with Ohio.  Until then, I looked at the very first post I made as I was packing my suitcase for England.  Here it is again, only this time I’ve inserted how everything really panned out (my comments are in bold):

 

My first post:

THOUGHTS:

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1.  I have wayyy too much stuff – how am I ever going to fit it all?!  I fit it all, but those suitcases were HEAVY – about 70lbs each.  Coming home was pretty difficult too – definitely can still work on my “packing light” skills.  Hey, it’s hard fitting your whole life of six months into two suitcases!

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2.  What did I get myself into? – I know I’m going to love it there, but how long will it take me to get adjusted?  I definitely did love it, but getting adjusted took much longer than I thought – about 3 months to be exact!  My biggest obstacle was getting to know my British friends – I definitely discovered that Americans are so much more likely to overshare than Brits are.

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3.  I am so incredibly excited to travel and meet as many people as possible!  I definitely did travel and met so many great people – buying wine from an elderly French woman in Strasbourg, France, was definitely on the “coolest things to happen on my travels” list.

 

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4.  The British education system is much different than that of the U.S.  Am I going to be able to put aside my procrastinator ways and keep up?  Did I still procrastinate?  Yes.  Being a student is pretty much the same anywhere you go.  Thankfully the Brits have a whole month to study for their exams – that was the craziest thing to me!

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5.  How homesick am I going to get?  I didn’t get superrr homesick, but rather just had days when I missed people a lot or was sad that I couldn’t be at an important event in their lives. I am surprised that I never had the urge to just jump on a flight home – England had too much to keep me busy!

 

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6.  I’m going to get so lost.  It’s just going to happen.  I’m already waiting for the day I take a train (aka the tube) for hours in the wrong direction.  BRING IT.  Of course I got lost, but thankfully, I was never in a situation where I was nervous or scared.  On a trip with friends, we ended up on a train headed for Freiburg, Germany instead of Friboug, Switzerland.  Whoops.  Thankfully, Swiss train ticket agents are incredibly nice.  Also, never underestimate the power of a map.

 

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7.  I am so SCARED!  Of course I was scared.  Thankfully, no monsters were waiting for me at my final destination.

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8.  What will my accent sound like to them?  I surprisingly became so accustomed to the British accent that hearing an American accent was so foreign to me!  How ironic.  Our speech seems much more choppy and we pronounce all the letters in our words fully.  For example, Americans say “WHAT?” with an emphasis on the ending “t”.  Brits say “WHAAAA?” 

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9.  The U.K. is on military time.  I’m already late everywhere I go, so this should be interesting!  This took a while to get used to, and I triple checked my tickets and clocks every time I had to be somewhere because I was so paranoid I would make a mistake and think 21:00 meant 11:00pm (it actually means 9:00pm).  With that said, it soon became the new normal – I still have my phone on military time and am not quite ready to change it back yet.

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10.  I’m going to miss everyone so much and have been so sad to leave, but now I can finally say that I cannot wait for this.  So, so, so, incredibly anxious – but in a good way!  Typical study abroad feeling.

 

BUCKET LIST:

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1.  See at least one celebrity (British or American!) in the flesh.  Fail.  I did, however, stand outside of a restaurant where the Janoskians were eating (Idk they are famous on Youtube and are apparently a big deal).  And when I was in Paris, the President of Ghana was inside a limo that I was 2 feet away from!  Ooh and the university I attended (University of Kent) was where Elie Goulding went to school! Okay, I sucked at this one on the list…

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2.  Try as much British food as possible (Fish and chips and biscuits with clotted cream, anyone?)  Fell in love with clotted cream, digestives, and jam.  Now I get cravings for tea all the time.

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3.  Find out if Brits like peanut butter (random, but no Europeans that I met have liked it!)  You bet I asked everyone if they liked peanut butter – but really, I did.  Most people said it was just okay.  At which point I had a freakout and told them they were seriously missing out on life.  I was able to turn one of my British housemates onto it, though… I’ll call this one a success.

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4.  Learn as much as I can about British culture, politics, and daily living.  Tried my best.  I’d say I did all right!  Number one lesson: talking on public transportation will definitely tag you as a foreigner.

 

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5.  SHOP SHOP SHOP! (Hello, Herods!)  Well, for starters, I learned to spell HARRODS, and this luxury store was definitely a hot spot on my list!  I found it my 3rd day in London and it’s just as magical as I imagined.  The food halls made me feel like a 5-year-old in a candy store.  I’m sad I didn’t really spend enough time in there, though.  Every time I was there it was for a limited time.  Darn…guess I’ll have to go back to London…

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6.  Have the most legitimate afternoon tea of all time (Why else would you go to England?).  Definitely did this many, many, many times.  Joined the Tea Society, too – BONUS.

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7.  Not get too stressed about the little things.   I think I was surprisingly good at this!  Having a ton of time to do things helped – not having a job really frees up your schedule.

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8.  Laugh...Laugh a lot.  Check, Check, and Check.

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9.  Dance in the rain down a London street with an umbrella in hand like Mary Poppins and the Morton Salt girl.  Darnnn I knew I forgot something!  Although, in my defense, I’m not quite sure the English population is ready for that one just yet.  I did sing “Singing in the Rain” in the streets of Leicester Square every time I passed the Singing in the Rain theater, though!

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10.  Become obsessed with a British band (other than One Direction <3).  BASTILLE BASTILLE BASTILLE.

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11.  See platform 9 3/4 and everything else Harry Potter possible!  OH MY GOSH.  Cliffs of Moher, Shaftesbury Avenue, the cafe in Scotland where J.K Rowling first wrote the book – all on the list!  The actually Harry Potter studio tour was AMAZING.  So happy.

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12.  Speak in a British accent and make a fool of myself (Ello, chap!).  GAH this happened on a daily basis.  Personal favorite moment of mine was betting my Brit friend that I could go the whole day speaking in a British accent.  Let me tell you, ordering at Subway and having an internal struggle as to how to say “tomatoes” in a British accent was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do. 

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13.  Pick up on British fashion…or at least fake it to my best ability!  I tried this one so hard – at least for the first few weeks.  I’d like to say my fashion sense has changed, but what I’m sure of is that I’ll be rocking elbow pads in the States proudly!

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14.  Actually write post cards like I say I will (I’ll do my best, promise!)  This happened, but they were a few months late – sorry everyone!

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15.  Have as many conversations with total strangers as possible.  This one.  This is something I thought I would do so much of.  Little did I know, Britain isn’t really the place you go to “have as many conversations with total strangers as possible.”  Rather, English people are incredibly nice once you get to know them, but their style of politeness often means keeping to themselves and letting you be.  

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16.  Find out what real football is all about by attending as many matches as I can.  Football didn’t pan out to be a big priority – but I did discover rugby and was lucky enough to attend a Six Nations match in Edinburgh, Scotland!  Also, if you ask me my football team, I’m an Arsenal girl (just because I randomly picked a team to support).

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17.  Pretend I’m characters from every British movie I love (The Holiday, Pride and Prejudice, What a Girl Wants)  Do impersonations count?  Also, I made it to Camden Market – which I’m pretty sure is where Oliver James (Ian) took Amanda Bynes (Daphne) in What a Girl Wants!  

 

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18.  Be a tourist for a moment (you just have to take those double-decker buses!)  Oh you know I did plenty of that.  I’m now an expert at “Excuse me sir, do you mind taking a quick photo of us?”

 

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19.  Become friends with a palace guard…but really.  Well that didn’t happen.  But my sisters and I did talk to one of them (not that he talked back).  But as soon as we were done talking he did a marching motion – which is secret guard code for “Let’s be best friends”, right?

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20.  Come back with an accent (DUH).  I thought I’d come home with an accent, but definitely failed on this one.  I do say some words differently now, though, and have tried to carry my British slang home with me – “queue”, “have a Google”, and “give me a ring” are now in my vocab.

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That’s all for my list, but I can say that I am so incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to do something like this.  It was an experience I will never forget (so cliche), but I know I am a different person because of it.  It may sound weird, but I definitely feel older now.  I look at problems more systematically, and feel much more fully equipped to handle situations on my own.  I also started learning Spanish and feel the need to stay on top of international news and policies.  Is this what grownups do?

Overall, being abroad in a foreign country teaches you to survive on your own, but also to rely on the kindness of humankind to set you straight when you hop on a train hoping to go to Fribourg, Switzerland, and instead almost end up in Freiburg, Germany.

 

So if you ever have the chance to do something different, do it. Travel and keep your mind open – you’ll be surprised at how much your experiences shape the person you are.  Thank you so much for reading!

 

All the best,

xx Renae

 

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