Monthly Archives: September 2013

Oh, I Believe In Yesterday

So I’ve already lost track of how long I’ve been here. I think it’s been merely a week, but there is honestly no way to tell as we stay SO busy after high noon. Mornings here have slowed down a bit, which is really quite nice. I don’t make it to the dining hall for breakfast just yet, because I a) don’t want to go alone and b) prefer to take it slow and just drink tea and blog. Plus I never go anywhere before lunch (classes still haven’t started yet, that’t the only reason why) despite waking up about 8 or 9.

This morning, I got up and showered at 8. We have men who clean our bathroom and kitchen areas in the am, so it’s pretty weird seeing them walking about the halls. Makes me feel like I’m back at King’s College London or even UTC for that matter! Because it was so early and SO cold here, I actually even took my cuppa tea into the shower with me. It’s probably the only time I’ll feel WARM today, despite the humidity here. It’s so strange- the weather is colder than in Tennessee, but I still break a sweat and have frizzy hair whenever I go out. Perhaps it just takes getting used to, and we’re fairly close to the western coast, so that could have something to do with the weird weather.

After getting cleaned up, I read Company magazine cover to cover for nearly an hour. This isn’t like any magazine we have in the US, but I think it’s fairly popular with the 20-something demographic here in the UK. I really liked this issue because it was produced almost entirely by Company interns and recent uni grads they recruited. There was also a large feature on women who work in fashion publishing in the UK and how they got their jobs. I thought there was some pretty valuable information in there, and I’ll definitely be saving this issue for future reference.

After much anticipation, I registered for classes this week! I am so excited for everything to start Monday. While I only have four classes, they equal taking six classes or about 18 hours in the US. Classes in the UK are almost entirely self taught, which is great for a person like me who feels most lectures are a waste of time (unless it’s a subject like math, which thankfully, none of these are). Three of my classes are 3rd year/4000 level courses. They are Feature Writing (English/creative writing), Magazine Production and Online Journalism (j), and Working in the Media (j). Introduction to British Politics is a class I’m taking for fun, and it’s just a 2000 level sociology and political science course. I am thrilled to be in these “modules” as the British call them, because I am in classes that are not offered at UTC and probably never would be! It’s fairly unlikely that “British Politics” is a popular field of study in the US, and Chattanooga isn’t exactly a hub for aspiring magazine journalists. These courses will (hopefully) give me exceptional experience and valuable talking points that I can bring up in future job interviews. I’ll do anything and everything to set myself apart from the flood of journalism majors trying to get a job soon. After gaining new online and design skills, I will be extremely versatile and ready to work for whatever company can help me get my foot in the door!

In other news, all but about six of the American girls went to London this  weekend. I decided not to go, because I really want to be able to revisit places and see my friends there. Going with a group of five or more girls slightly inhibits this, and even though I know I’d have a great time with them, I thought it would be best to stay here and take the time to explore more of Chester. Erica (one of the gorgeous and sweet blonde twins from Kansas) and Kathleen (a fellow Catholic English major and wonderful gal from Missouri) are both staying here as well. Sierra, my sweet little roomie from Texas, is also here so I don’t have to stay in my big princess tower room alone! Sierra and I are going to see the Libertines tonight, which is a band we both love who are actually coming to CHESTER for freshers week! It should be really awesome, and I love going to shows. Especially ones at cool English venues.

Kathleen and I watched The Proposal last night, which was precious!! Except it froze to load at a rather unfortunate part, but that’s ok. We had some great laughs! I”m really glad I’ve found a balanced group. Everyone likes to go out and be adventurous with me, but I’m not stuck with all the stress of planning and such. People really want to do fun stuff here, and we only have like two and a half months now so it’s best to make the most of our time here! I’ll be planning day trips soon, so be looking for that fun information in the future! Night 🙂

 

xx,

j

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WHOOPS just found this on my computer… Looks like somebody forgot to hit the publish button yesterday. Hence the new title haha.

Chester day whatever: Trip to Liverpool

Let me begin by saying that yesterday was one of THE most stressful days of my life.

We all had to be completely moved out of our room by 9, and breakfast is served from like 730 to 9. My group had the idea to drop off our stuff in the holding room at 745, eat breakfast, and make our own way to the train station and get to Liverpool probably at least 45 mins before the rest of the international students. However, the doors were locked when we got there and so we had to wait for someone to unlock them. After that, we had a quick breakfast and headed to the station. We made it all the way on the 10:15 train, when we were told we had to get back off and wait. I thought this was a bit silly, since we are adults and can navigate this country for ourselves. However, I can understand why they generally wanted all of us to be together. Especially since many of these students speak English as a second, third, or even fourth language. (It amazes me how many languages Europeans and Asians learn to speak, in comparison to Americans who speak English and perhaps a little of some school-level romance language)

Liverpool was really amazing. I walked around the city with one of the larger groups from Spain, especially with my friends Bea and Carmen from the southern region of Spain. They speak with a slight lisp or thickness in their accent, and I think it is just lovely! My new friends Irene (pronounced ee-wren-eh) and Ana also walked around with us, and I love talking to them as well. They love ginger hair and are all slightly fascinated by it. Naturally, I don’t mind and love getting to know them better! Kathleen and Natasa also walked around with the Spaniards, and we had a ton of laughs taking pictures and mobbing the South Hampton football players we saw getting on the bus outside the Hilton. Kathleen, Natasa and I had lunch at Cafe Rouge, a delicious chain French restaurant. My starter was a savory leek brioche with zucchini and mushrooms. The main course we all ordered was a baked chicken covered in a deliciously sweet tomato paste with more zucchini, green peppers, onions, and spices. It reminded me of ratatouille with chicken!

After lunch, we went for a bit of shopping at the H&M sale. Kathleen and I bought an identical LBD with gorgeous bustier seaming on the sides, a high neckline which will be perfect for the winter’s chill, and a slight high-low hemline. Typically, I don’t like that sort of hemline, but this is such a gentle slant that it actually is very flattering on my body shape. And the dress was only FOUR QUID. That’s like $7. Even for an H&M dress, that’s ridiculously cheap. I have a lot of errands to run today, and need to get my winter coat eventually. It’s not too chilly here just yet, but I don’t want to spend all the money I saved up this summer for my Barbour jacket and not have enough!

I’ve actually managed my spending really well. I’ve gone through about 30 pounds in cash and 30 pounds on my bank card, which is about $100. My typical spending during a week at school, not counting my rent money, is about the same. I was expecting to spend more like $150 a week since everything is more expensive here (due to both the exchange rate and higher cost of living), but even with all my one-time purchases like bedding and toiletries, I am pretty pleased with how well I’ve managed.

My room is PERFECT, despite being a shared room when I paid UTC for a single. (No worries, Mom and Dad. I will be letting them know and seeing if we can get a refund on the difference! Many other students were in the same boat. There must have been a miscommunication.) It has exposed brick walls dark brown exposed wooden beams, two skylights and a view of the chapel from one window and WALES from another. I love it. Gotta go, about to have tea!

 

xx,

j

Day 2/First full day in Chester!

Hello, family/friends/random readers!

I’ve finally got time to sit and make a post. Apologies for not doing so sooner, but I promise it’s merely because I have been kept SO busy by the international program and my new friends here at Chester! Here is the gist of what we’ve done so far:

When I arrived to the Manchester airport, there was no obvious Chester representative there to collect me. Bewildered, I looked about for other confused looking twenty-somethings and asked them if they were studying abroad as well. I found my wonderful new friend Andi, who was actually sitting behind me on the airplane, and we concluded the most sensible thing to do was consult the help desk. The friendly man behind the counter called the contact at Chester and fortunately, he was on his way.

Once we had picked up a round of international students at the Manchester and Liverpool airports, we finally headed to Chester. The American girls pretty much dominate everything, as we are always the loudest, wildest, most full of laughter bunch sitting at the front of every seminar and event. I truly wouldn’t want it any other way! Before I came, I thought I wanted to make a couple American friends and mostly mingle with the British students. I still want as many British friends as possible, but this group is really working well together. We all seem to have similar interest, habits, tastes, everything. And the students from other countries are amazing as well! Some I’ve really gotten along well with include Maria, Carmen, Bea, and Irene who are THE sweetest girls ever (even with the minor language barrier, they’re so easy to talk to!), and from various parts of Spain, Ana from Finland, Stella from France (she speaks perfect English and lived 10 years in China, too!) a precious boy from France who let me try his homemade sweet cake at the Bring and Share, and a rather good looking Swedish lad who brought simply DIVINE chocolate to the same event. My American friends are literally from ALL over the country- Alaska, New York, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, Florida, and probably a bunch of other states I’m forgetting.

We had “sessions” for part of yesterday and today, but when we weren’t in sessions, we took the time to explore the city center. Chester is founded on the original Roman settlement back in the Iron Age, and the “city walls” are left over from that time. Most of the buildings are either extremely Tudor in their black and white wooded architecture, very Victorian and exquisite in brick and stone detailing, or freshly modern with a sleek and innovative look.

Tonight after a busy day of sessions, shopping, and walking, we went out to the most adorable Victorian era pub, The George and Dragon. I just ordered a single Pimm’s and lemonade, as I didn’t want to drop all my money and go hard on the first night. It’s just not what this trip is about for me. But Andi, Kathleen, and Natasha all ordered the same thing at my recommendation and really liked it! Thursdays are karaoke nights at the George and Dragon. Naturally, my little group of Americans HAD to get up to sing Miley’s “Party in the USA.” I SCREAMED when she said “definitely not a Nashville party” and it was wonderful. My Spanish friends loved it and were singing and dancing the whole time! They got up to sing Mama Mia and Livin La Vida Loca, which was adorable. They seem like a great group, and I can’t wait to get to know them better. I just wish I spoke Spanish!

It’s already midnight here and I’ve got another early wake up call so I’ll say goodnight! I’ll be back on tomorrow with more details. Basically, I have made awesome friends, bought a copy of Vogue UK and chocolate mice at Waitrose, and found THE perfect snuggly cream jumper at Primark for ten quid. I couldn’t be happier right now, and absolutely adore Chester. Perhaps I should feel guilty about not having any homesickness, but I think England has alway been my home. I just feel so right here, like I’m finally able to be the fun, intelligent, and interestingly quirky person I’ve always known I was inside. Man, I love this place.

xx,

j

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Look at this weather!! Highs in the 60s all week. I’m going to love it there 🙂