I’ve been in England for less than a week, but I’ve experienced more than I have in the past two years combined. The past few days have been a whirlwind and completely not what I expected. Of course, I had/have some unrealistic expectations for my five months studying abroad, but so far I’ve been having a good time.
I was actually really surprised at how normal everything felt at first. Besides going through the Border patrol thing and getting my baggage (which I’d never done before because I’d never so much as set foot into an airport), everything felt very strangely like home. I expected a jolt of something when I first set foot on this new and exciting continent, but I felt nothing. With the exception of the masses of sheep, even the landscape looked eerily similar to central California where I go to college.
It took until the third day before things started to really feel new and exciting. Up until this point the experience felt a great deal like I was starting my freshman year in college all over again. When we toured the beautiful city of Chester, England (where I am studying), that it when I started to feel like I was living my dreams.
Right now, I’m just slightly under the influence of alcohol, which is quite new, and I’m reflecting on the all of the new experiences I’ve had since I left home.
- First time on an airplane. I’m 20 years old, so it’s about time! Honestly, I can’t believe how easy it was. I expected to be terrified, but it was way less frightening than being stuck in a car with my father driving. It was a bit alarming when the wings of the plane started shaking, but I guess that’s normal during turbulence. My second flight, which was seven hours long, was certainly not enjoyable as I was stuck in the middle seat. But it could have gone worse. And the border patrol (or whatever it’s called) was not nearly as scary as I expected.
- First time overseas/ in the eastern hemisphere/ Farthest I’ve even been from home by a longshot. I live in California, the farthest I’d ever traveled was to Nebraska, and that was when I was five. The only time I’ve ever left the country was on a cruise to Mexico, but it was the Baja California part, so that’s pretty close to the US anyway. I know this was ridiculous, but when we left the airport in Manchester I looked up at the sky and thought “that’s weird, it looks just like the sky back home”. I don’t feel like I’m halfway around the world (although I did on that first day when I was dead-tired at 3pm).
- First time not talking to my mom for more than four days. When I’m at college back home I talk to my mom on the phone every single day, usually a few time a day. But I haven’t been able to call of Skype since I arrived on Sunday. I’ve emailed at few times, but it’s not the same. That has been one of the hardest things about this experience, not being able to talk to my mom and tell her about everything that is going on. I feel like I’m having this great experience, but I have no one to talk to about it. Which does remind me, the number one hardest thing about studying abroad so far is being lonely. It happens to everyone who studies abroad, no matter what. So I’m trying not to feel like a loser for being a bit lonely at times. It’s just weird not being able to text my best friend and go to dinner with her. It’s like being a freshman all over again and having no one to go to the cafeteria with.
- First real conversation with a British person! I can’t really pin this one down, because in the past five days I’ve talked to several Brits. But the one that stands out was a lady from Liverpool, who stopped and talked to me and another American on the street for about ten minutes for pretty much no reason. In the states I would have thought she was crazy, but it was quite nice. I could barely understand a word she said (the Liverpool accent is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before), but it made me feel like I was in this really cool place.
- First time buying an alcoholic drink (legally). Tonight was the first time I’ve ever been in a pub, and it was the first time I’ve ever drank vodka. I was with two other American girls and we are all 20 years old, so we had no clue how to order at a bar, let alone one in England. So we all ended up with these fizzy green drinks, that apparently had two shots of vodka, and they were actually quite tasty. That’s all I drank, but I definitely think that is enough since it’s pretty much my first time drinking (with the expectation of a few glasses of champagne at a cousin’s wedding).
Although, this whole experience is really nothing like I expected, I’ve very happy with the way things are heading. I have 5½ months in England, and considering how much excitement I’ve had in my first five days, I’m thrilled to see what else awaits me in this great country.