September 2012 Archives

First Three Days of Modules (aka Class)

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Here is a link to the pictures that may or may not work... we shall find out once I publish this :)

So I've officially had three modules (I have one module per day except two on Tuesdays and none on Fridays! Three day weekend :D) and I've really enjoyed all of them.

On Monday I have Popular Cultures which is a Worcester module and is an Anthropology course. About half of the class period (four hours :P) is lecture and the other half is seminar based; and I actually spoke up in class once! For those of you who know me, this is pretty big (not a fan of speaking in front of people). Even with the four hour class period, I stayed engaged and interested basically the whole time.

Tuesday is Drawing and I am super excited for this class because, even though I am an Art History major, I wish I could draw and I'm hoping this class will pull a bit of creativity out of me. Plus, it sounds like we'll be doing little field trips nearly every week so I'm psyched for that! Other than class on Tuesday, I went shopping for actual food I can cook so that was nice; the trek home with what felt like 20 pounds of food was not so nice however. I have had healthy, yummy meals the past few days though, so it was well worth it! Unfortunately, I got caught up in the class and the grocery shopping and completely blanked the Worcester Rowing Club Welcome Meeting (I'm planning on joining the rowing team for the workout and the community feeling). I was so upset for missing that but everything turned out okay; I went to the selection meeting today... more on that later.

Wednesday (today) was also super busy! I had class again in the morning (this one is a UMD marketing class) and it went well. I really don't have much of an interest in marketing because that's just not my focus but the class seems like it will be interesting and I really like all the people in it (four other UMD kids and two Brits); we even have a facebook group already :P After class, I made some lunch and went straight to get some art supplies for my Drawing module and I got great deals; it was amazing the amount of stuff I got for the amount I paid! Then I did laundry and ate again before heading to the Rowing Club Man V Machine session. It was intense! First, we got some one-on-one instruction to get the form down. Apparently, I had great back posture while I was rowing so that was nice; plus, the senior helping me out asked if I was a dancer and that basically made my night (I'm not a dancer but I've always kinda wanted to be). Then came the challenge: we were put into teams and had to do six, five hundred meter rows. So in total, each team rowed 15000 meters. It was SO HARD! The first round went pretty easily but then the second round hit and it was like "Six of these, really??!" Thankfully, by the third go around I had wrapped my head around the fact that I was only half way done so it was actually a little easier than the first couple. It was just so great to look around and make eye contact with other exhausted people and just have that look like "You're exhausted, yeah, me too." It built a sense of we're-all-in-this-together and I loved that even as I was panting and feeling dizzy and like three more rounds was not going to be physically possible. Anyway, we got through it just fine... well, most everyone, and I loved meeting a lot of new people. I also was told several times by the senior rowers that I did a "brilliant" job and they were all pretty surprised when I said that I had never rowed in my life so that was all quite encouraging :D

I'm excited to do a couple more rowing things this week; we've got another selection meeting on Friday and then on Saturday or Sunday, I'm going to a, what they call, taster session where we are actually on the water to see how we get along there.

Feel free to post comments, questions etc. I am happy to explain more, or give more detail or hear your own experiences! Cheers!

Wales Activity Weekend

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Okay, so first of all, no link showed up to take you to pictures... I don't know what to do about that. I'll try to figure it out but for now we'll just go with vivid imagery in my writing... yeah, I'll definitely try to figure out the picture thing :P

Moving on! So Wales was great: we got on the coach early (no really, 6:45 early!) and were off to Wales by 7 am. Once we got there (only two hours to get to a new country... what??!) we got into our teams and started the team building activities right away. My team started with raft building. I was hesitant about this because A) I've never built a raft and B) I did not want to fall in the the Lake Superior temp water... this whole falling-in-thing was inevitable too, by the way. But our team actually did a pretty good job building the raft out of the materials given: four old plastic barrels, six long wood pieces and eight long pieces of rope. We were able to keep out of the frigid water until we all had to stand on the raft and do the "head, shoulders, knees and toes" dance... to be fair, we would have been fine had it not been for the "toes" part of the dance, that just screwed with our balance. Anyway, the water was extremely cold and I walked back to Summit Centre (the place we were staying in Treharris, Wales) dripping wet but, surprisingly, I wasn't too cold!

After rafting and lunch the teams switched and it was our turn to go caving. Caving was really cool; they took us to their man-made cave and we had to follow each other through it. There were some pretty tight squeezes and places where we were crawling... or slithering, through the cave. Several people could not go through the cave because they were claustrophobic but everyone did a really great job of trying and of knowing their personal limitations. I wasn't ever nervous in the cave but I don't have that fear so I just thought it was cool.

The next thing we did that day was make dinner. We had our specific groups to have the dinner shift and it wasn't technically my shift but I wanted to be in the kitchen so badly I just helped out and chopped some veggies, etc. It felt so good to be cooking again and there was music playing so it was just really fun! After dinner, we had our first intercultural seminar meeting. This is for all programme people so we can look intentionally at our experiences abroad and delve into the similarities, differences, difficulties, successes etc of our time in a new culture. Everyone was really open and we learned more about each other and had a lot of fun.

Later that night we went into town to the pub/hotel. It was pretty chill; hardly anyone was there but we had fun watching the telly and playing (or, in my case, watching) pool.

The next day was the day of rock climbing and team building activities. My favorite activity was when we had to get a ball into a bucket across the courtyard area with only PVC pipe halves. It was difficult but kind of funny and finally on the third try, we got it! Rock climbing was fine; I went up to the top once but then I was done. I've never been a huge rock climbing fan so it was more fun for me to cheer on the others. Earlier in the day during our free time, a few of us climbed some of the hills behind the complex to snap some pictures (still trying to figure out how to get those on here).

We went into town to the pub again Friday and this time it seemed like the entire town was there! It was packed with people of all ages and it was just so interesting to see something I'd have never seen back home. Apparently, Treharris is the poorest town in the whole UK. This really gives them a sense of community because, as an ASDA worker explained, when you have nothing, it's only about the town instead of anything that divides classes. We met some really nice Welsh people that night and heard a lot of fun music from a man playing live.

Our final full day in Wales was spent on a "Hill Walk" which, actually, was a Mountain Walk. We walked a cluster of mountains including Corn Du Mountain and Pen y Fan. It was beautiful and so hard! Just on the way up to the first peak we all had to stop for a breath several times; it was pretty steep in some areas as well. Once we got to the top, we were able to walk along the ridge and take in some amazing scenery. Then came another climb! It was actually harder to walk down a mountain peak than it was climbing it though just due to the fact that your toes would push to the front of your shoes and hurt. I definitely felt it in my knees the next day! I was really happy to have done the Mountain Hike because it was gorgeous and an incredible workout and I would honestly go back to Wales to do that hike once a month.

Just about everyone was wiped out that evening so, except for a few people, we stayed in and watched the Hunger Games. The next morning we were off to a Coal Mining Museum to get a better sense of the culture of Wales since it was a huge coal mining community back in the day. The tour was really cool; we had a funny, interesting tour guide and it was fun to see the underground area where the coal mining used to take place. We were all freezing and soaked (it was pouring as we were trying to find our way into the museum) so we were all very excited to get back on the road and back home. Due to that and to the fact that it was still quite dreary and raining, we skipped the Sculpture Garden and the Forest of Deen that was on the itinerary. I was fine with that as were most others; only a few were disappointed about missing that; I just figure it'd be better to visit those things when it's nice out and when we aren't tired and wet.

It was great to get back home but Wales was really fun. I probably wouldn't go back on my own but the people were so welcoming and certainly the views were beautiful... and if you ever want to see more sheep than you've ever seen in your whole life, check out Wales; it's chock full of them :P

Catch Up and Pics!

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A little over a week ago, I went out to take a bunch of pictures of the town with a few UMD friends. We figured we could all look like tourists for a day in order to get some pictures of the town we'd be living in for the next nine months. It was a lot of fun! We walked along the river and crossed the bridge to the side where the city campus is. Got some pics from inside the Hive (our beautiful, if not a little odd looking, library just built earlier this year) and then went along to get some pictures of the City Centre (yes, Centre not Center).

Here's a link to the pictures I've taken... I've never done this before so I have no idea if this will work :P Here goes nothing!

Anyway, the next day we went to what the English call a "Car Boot Sale". Now, a boot of a car is what we call the trunk so basically, it was a garage sale out of car trunks. There must have been over 100 cars parked with their boots open out in this huge field. I am not a huge garage sale fan and this was about the same but I did enjoy walking around and taking in the scene. Plus, I did find a colander for only 50 p (p=pence... like what we call cents) and I got the best strawberries I've ever had and some grapes from a nice older guy who called me "love" when he greeted me; I probably blushed, it was sweet. He even threw in another package of grapes and all of that fruit was only two pounds! Meat was also being sold from a truck there as it does in the City Centre market... didn't go near that.

Then, Freshers Week began. Freshers are equivalent to Freshman in the US and even though none of us from UMD are freshers anymore, we were invited to do all of the Freshers week activities: going to clubs, the sports and societies fair and welcome type meetings for your particular area of study. The welcome meetings were only slightly helpful because most of the meetings picked for me didn't necessarily relate to my major, Art History, it was basically just related to the Drawing class I'm taking. Apparently, they don't have majors here... instead of asking "What is your major?" you ask "What are you studying?"

The Sports and Societies Fair was great! It was a little crazy because it was so busy with all the different societies you could join but I found my way to Rowing and to the Film Watching Society. I haven't officially joined either but I'll be going to the first film showing tonight and going to the selection meetings for Rowing. I'm happy that Rowing accepts people who haven't had any experience with the sport because I have been interested in trying it for a while but never really had the opportunity at home; hopefully the selection process won't be too intimidating! The Film Watching society is mostly just to meet people and have a chill night every week to watch a movie I haven't seen before.

We finished off Freshers Week early because we had a programme trip to Wales! A lot of people were disappointed to be leaving in the middle of Freshers Week because they felt like they were missing out on a lot of the clubbing/getting-to-know-flatmates opportunities. I, for one, was glad to be getting away from the Freshers Week madness and I felt like it'd be a good opportunity to get back in touch with all the programme people. My next entry will give details on how awesome the Wales trip was :D

Day of Shopping!

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While we still had an early morning (9:15 am... yes, that is early for those of us with jetlag) meeting to go to, we did not have to be running around a lot that morning because it was all about talking to all of the international students who are going to be attending the University of Worcester. We got a couple warm welcomes and lots of information on banking, finance, study skills, Student Union things. The SU is basically a union which every student of the U is part of just by being a student here and it's not part of the University - it is it's own separate entity. Anyway, that went until a little before noon so we decided to head down to the City Center to grab some food (Greggs is one super fast and cheap, but still yummy, little sandwich shop with pasties and such) and get a few things (like those adapters that I need to return).

We needed to get back to campus (we were nearly late, again) to get copies of our passport and visa for medical insurance purposes and the bank. Then we were out on the town again for some grocery shopping.

We all had to meet at ASDA (a pretty cheap shopping center with just about anything we could need) so there, after shopping for food etc we went to figure out where a bus would drop us off at St. John's. That didn't work out so well; we ended up wandering around to find the bus and it started raining and our bags (paper... weirdest material to bag things in when it rains 70% of the time here) started breaking... and I loved it. We were all so hopeless it was just ridiculous to me. It was just the pathetic funny that made me like the situation so much; anyway, we finally found the bus stop (we actually got there [a Staples store, whodah thunk?] at the same time as the bus) and were the first ones on it. It got pretty packed though as all the other international/exchange students got on too.

That evening I was able to connect with both my parents on Skype (because I finally got my computer charged up after figuing out the outlet situation) so that was really nice. So far, I'm not super homesick, I'm just missing my family and friends a bit.

Well, I'm about to go downtown for a bit of shopping with a few people but I promise there will be pictures soon; a bunch of us are taking part of our free Saturday (no meetings!!) to go around town taking pics... hopefully there is some sun on Saturday! :P

Day Two: The First of Much Walking

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Day Two was pretty good. We had a scavenger hunt in the morning which was okay; I would have rather just walked around the City Center (the main part of the city with shopping, food, etc) for a few hours with a sheet telling us some important places to take note of... but maybe I'm just bitter: our team lost the scavenger hunt ha ha ha...

Other than that, the rest of the day's plans were mostly housekeeping type of stuff: getting our student IDs, figuring out some bank paper things and getting some info on our modules (courses for the Americans out there). We also apparently got an introduction tour but I don't remember much about that; are you sensing a theme with me yet?? I tend to forget/not remember things but I try, I really do. Anyway, this is part of my reason for writing a blog, I really want a way to look back and remember specific events or feelings or places that were important to me at the time. Once we get some normal routine down with classes and everything I should have time to post more often.

Lastly, we had a Pub Quiz (the Pear Tree is our on-campus pub) where we met up with other international students and did some trivia... my team for this also lost (pretty sure I'm cursed :P) but we were all able to meet some cool people (many from Germany, Sweden and Finland) who are basically in the same boat as we are: trying to figure out a new country's customs, being away from home for possibly the first time etc. It's been fun being able to say "hi" to these guys as we see them around campus!

Day Two was a breeze compared to the running around all day on Wednesday... however, that turned out to be my favorite day yet! More to come in my next post: The Day of Shopping!

Flight and First Day

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I feel like we haven't stopped walking since we've gotten to Worcester. It's been four days packed full of necessary information and experiences. But, I get ahead of myself! I'm going to make a few different posts for the different days because so much has happened and there is too much info for just one post... I would totally bore you to death (especially since I don't have pics yet, sorry!!)

Sunday was a blur of last minute packing (and unpacking and repacking... so hard to get under 50 lbs!!) and making sure everything was squared away for my departure - though I did find time to squeeze in a viewing of Beauty and the Beast :D The airport was slick; I liked seeing it so deserted on a Sunday evening, usually it's bustling when I'm there and contributes to everything feeling unsettled. Thankfully, even though saying goodbye to my parents was tough, we all seemed to hold it together. One bad thing about the plane ride (other than being stuck in the very middle) was the expected not-being-able-to-sleep thing... never have I been able to sleep on a plane and I don't think that will change anytime soon.

So we get off the plane at Heathrow in London and everyone is sleep deprived and it just gets funnier as we have to be on a coach bus for another two and a half hours before actually arriving in Worcester. I don't know that my eyes have ever threatened so much to close and stay closed; and we were actually doing activities on the bus to keep us awake and I was still so ready to fall asleep! I'm pretty sure several of us were in that predicament so it was just kind of funny to me (probably because I was sleep deprived and therefore loony).

Finally we're in Worcester... and I don't even recall what we did the rest of the day on Monday...our schedule says we checked in and got our keys to the flats and had a sandwich meal for dinner. I only vaguely remember this happening :P

Overall, our flats are super nice. I had a small issue with figuring out how the automatic lights could be turned off (I certainly did not enjoy having a startling bright light in my face at who-knows-what in the morning) and figuring out why the adapter I brought from home and the two others I bought here didn't work (a switch on the outlet needed to be flipped; in my defense, the switch was not super obvious or, if you don't buy that [which you shouldn't], I was totally sleep deprived [the real issue]). Both of these problems were solved relatively quickly, though I will need to return the other two adapters. I love that I get my own bathroom - which I finally bought real towels for yesterday! I also got sheets and a few other necessary items (like FOOD!!) so yesterday (which I will go more in-depth about in another post) was fabulous and productive; best day yet.

But again, I'm getting ahead of myself... my next post will be on Day Two, Tuesday the 11th. Don't worry pics will be coming soon(-ish). :D

Less Than 48 Hours...

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It's hard to believe I'll be getting on a plane - that in just eight hours - will drop me off in my new home for the next nine months; and this is less than 48 hours into my future!

For the 2012-13 school year I'll be studying abroad in Worcester, England at the University of Worcester. I chose the UMD Study in England Programme for a couple of reasons: I had been to London before on an AP European History field trip and fell in love with the city and I wanted to study abroad in a country that made it easy to travel to other countries and where there wouldn't be a huge language barrier to deal with on a day-to-day basis. As I researched the programme a little more, I found there to be many other reasons to apply but I'll explain some of those as we go along; I don't feel like sounding like an advertisement :) Maybe I'll sound like an advertisement in my final post nine months from now!

Just to give you a sense of who I am, if you don't already know me: I'm a sophomore in college and I'm majoring in Art History (no specialty yet, I only declared a few months before freshman year ended). I love art and travel (I'm pumped to be able to go to the British Museum when we get over there). I also enjoy cooking and baking (cupcakes are my favorite thing to bake; my Snickerdoodle cupcakes are famous in my house) as well as singing and dancing (in private or with close friends and family who, for the most part I think, don't mind :P). I loved going to UMD last year; I made such good friends and it was just an amazing year so it's hard to leave for an entire school year. What else... well, I think I'll just leave it at that for now; I'll have many more chances to reveal more about myself.

I'm hoping this coming year will be one of growth. I want to become more independent (which I think is kind of inevitable) and feel like I'm totally able to provide for myself. I also want to learn more about the world and different cultures, oh! that's another reason why I wanted to be part of this particular programme: since it is a full school year, I thought that would make it easier to become fully immersed in the culture rather than just skimming over it. Semesters go by so fast... I wanted to be able to feel at home in another country rather than just feel like I was passing through for a visit.

I plan on posting a few times per week, so look for another one of these sometime soon! If you have any questions, I think I have comment boxes available (I've never tried to make a serious blog before so bear with me as I work through how to do this) so feel free to ask!

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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