From London to Wales
Wow, has everything changed! After a long journey from the Minneapolis airport to the Newark airport and finally to the Heathrow airport in London, I can now say that I have hopped over the pond. We arrived in London around 7:30 AM, went through a long customs line, and met with our IFSA-Butler guide. At this point I was feeling so many emotions, but most of all, I was exhausted. I had woken up at 4 AM on Thursday and we landed in the morning on Friday. I managed a 2-hour nap on the flight but surprisingly, plane seats are not to best accommodation for a good night’s sleep. But I didn’t have time to feel tired, because we had landed in London and had a full day ahead of us. I was excited enough to be able to push my tiredness to the side.
The first weekend was a whirlwind. We walked around the city, tried out a few pubs, and saw some cool touristy places. It was in London that I realized three distinct things. First, I feel painfully American. I’m pretty sure that I could be walking down the street quietly and everyone would still know I’m American. I know that’s not true, obviously, but things are just different enough where I feel just a bit out of place. Although this feeling is strange, I welcome it and hopefully it makes me more conscious of my behaviors and mannerisms to I can learn how to fit in quickly. Second, the food is a bit strange. It’s not too different from American food, but it’s just different enough where I know I’m in a different country. For example, the buffet served in our hotel every morning offered croissants, hard-boiled eggs, some cooked meet that kind of looked like bacon, and baked beans alongside a few other items. It was all quite good, but different than your pancake and waffle bar at your local Holiday Inn back in the states. Finally, the driving here is crazy! The whole “drive on the left side of the road” will never look quite right to me. Whenever I’m at a crosswalk, I can never figure out which way to look to check if cars are coming so I just look back in forth like a madwoman. I’m sure I’ll get a little bit more used to it as I’m here, but wow am I thankful that I will never be driving here.
After a few days in London we boarded a train that took us over to Cardiff, Wales. I settled into my flat, met my wonderful flat mates, and relaxed. It wasn’t until about 11 PM that first night that disaster struck: I became so sick. After spending the entire night awake and ill, I spent my next day recovering in bed and catching up on sleep. That was a few days ago, and I’m finally feeling much better! The weather has been beautiful here so far, and I think that’s helped.
Some friends from Drake who also are also abroad at Cardiff and I have been exploring the city the past few days, and it is beautiful. The City Center is filled with shops, restaurants, and pubs, and all of the buildings are old and ornate. Cardiff also has many parks and pretty trails. Nearby my flat is a beautiful river with trails on either side that I’ve gotten the chance to run by a few times. I ran just before sunset and it was something out of a fairytale, it was so gorgeous.
As I finish up my first week here, I can’t help but be so thankful that I’m able to spend a semester overseas. I think the adjustment period I’m in right now is going to be a bit tricky, but each and every day I feel more at home. At the end of the day, I know this is where I am supposed to be.
That’s all for now!