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.