So this isn’t a 5 month vacation?
So unfortunately this is the first week that I don’t really have any big adventures to report back on. As of today (16/2) I have officially been in the UK for a month, and apparently that’s about when reality sets in and you realize that a semester abroad isn’t all travel and fun.
Going in to this weekend we had some small plans that I was excited for, but I also knew that I needed to buckle down and start work on my assignments that have due dates quickly approaching. On Saturday, we decided we didn’t want to do nothing on Valentine’s day so we made plans to finally get out and have afternoon tea, something you can’t leave the UK without trying obviously. When we visited Llandaff a few weeks back there was this adorable tea room that I was very intrigued by, and after a skim through trip advisor reviews, we decided that it would be a lovely place for afternoon tea.
On Saturday morning we headed back out to Llandaff to the tea room, only to face a 10 minute conversation with staff about the chances of us getting a table. Apparently there’s only 1 table big enough for 5 people in the whole place. We ended up having to wait a while for a gap between reservations and arrived back later in the afternoon. The place is absolutely adorable with tables around every corner, but when we went to order we were told that they were out of supplies for afternoon tea. I’m not sure how a tea room runs out of supplies for tea, but we were disappointed. In the end we found a nice cafe for lunch before wandering the town for a bit.
Sunday was slightly more exciting with the prospects of Wales next Six Nations game in the afternoon. We went to The Taf (the pub in the student union) to grab some lunch and watch the game, which is still mostly trying to figure out all of the rules. Eventually Wales beat Scotland (yay!) but I think the highlight was definitely when they panned over to JK Rowling in the stadium watching the game. So cool.
However, that’s where the fun ends. The entirety of the rest of my weekend was spent rolling around my room trying to find a position where I could focus on writing my first essay. Back home, I don’t really have a problem writing the essays we’re set, probably because there is a lot less pressure put on them, and the prompts are a lot more specific. Here, our grades are for the most part composed of an essay and an exam, so the stakes are pretty high. And the prompt for this one could probably be interpreted 150 different ways. I spent 3 nights trying to spit out 2000 words and eating way more chocolate than I should have, but I finally have it finished. Now I just have to work out the details of whether or not I have all of the little formatting things figured out. You never really think about things like the differences in font requirements or margin limits between countries, but everything is different, including trying to learn an entirely different system for source referencing. It makes the whole process just that little bit more stressful.
Obviously I knew coming into this that school was going to be different; in fact you hear about it constantly during the entire process. IFSA does a wonderful job making sure we’re all prepared to go into an entirely new environment with a good understanding of the new system. But the information you don’t think about are the little things. How do you turn in assignments? What are the font and font size requirements? How do you change your Microsoft Word settings to centimeters? Luckily there are plenty of people available to answer your questions but when you go to a new place, a lot more things are different than you anticipate.
Now that I have my first essay finished, my attention has now moved to a group presentation I have due next week, but this one I’m a little more happy to do since it’s on a British television channel. Which reminds me of one of my first complaints about being out of America- I can’t really watch any of the big TV things live here. Even if I wanted to, primetime TV back home is at like 2am here.
All this work has definitely made me realized that I’m not actually on a 5 month holiday. Life sort of catches up with you after a month, and while I still have my mind set on more exciting things coming up, I have to stay focused on academics.