Now that I’ve been home for about a week and somewhat readjusted to my normal lifestyle, I’ve had the chance to reflect on the amazing journey I’ve been on these last four months. Studying abroad was by far the best experience of my life so far and I am so glad and thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in such an enriching experience.
To me, it’s the people you meet while traveling that make the places and adventures so memorable. My most recent trip this weekend to Barcelona was anthing but smooth and easy, but the people I met along the way will make this a lasting memory in my life forever.
Since we’re nearing our 2 week Easter break at the end of April, all of my course works are begging to come due. Working on these course works has been an interesting experience because 2 of them have been group work assignemtns. This has been a unique opportunity to collaberate with people from all over the world and see their different styles of working. Total between my 2 groups I worked with two people from Hong Kong, one from England, one from Norway and one from Estonia. I’ve enjoyed the experience of being able to work in groups and it has also helped me adapt to the Bath way of doing things, from structuring papers to citing sources.
Last week I was able to take a “mini-holiday” and visit Portuagl for 5 days!!!… It was actually accident and I didn’t mean to be gone for long, but I made a mistake while booking my flights, and the rest was history. Taylor and I were initially nervous about being away for so long because in the past when we’ve just taken weekend trips, we have always been itching to get back to Bath by the time the weekend was over. Little did we know that Portugal was such an amazing place!! It turned out to be one the my favorite places I’ve ever visited in my life. Much of this was do to the beautiful landscapes and towns that circle Lisbon and the lovely water views that touch every town, but we wouldn’t have had nearly as good a time if we didnt stay at the best hostel ever, Goodmorning Lisbon. The workers at this hostel were awesome and we truly became friends with them by the end. They were young and so helpful and planned out our day for us everyday with how to get places, what to do when we got there, and, most importantly, where to eat.
It seems like I’ve been in Bath for much longer than a month.. especially when I think about everything I’ve already done! My first month has been amazing and I already feel so at home in my apartment in Pulteney Court and strolling through the city centre of Bath. One little piece of culture diffence that I’ve become aware of is that when we’re done eating at a restaurant and they’ve cleared our plates, the waiter doesn’t bring a check until we ask for it, no matter how long we sit there and wait. I think this is actually really nice because it shows they aren’t rushing you out and you dont have to leave until you’re ready. The main difference that continually strikes me is the difference in my school days. My classes here only meet once a week for two hours and have very little outside work. It is extremely nice and leaves me plenty of time to explore Bath and travel. So far I’ve been traveling every weekend to a different part of the UK. My first weekend I went to Bristol and saw lots of really cool displays of street art.
I’ve been in Bath for just a little over a week and I love it!! It feels like I have been here for so much longer than that. The views everywhere are beautiful and although it does rain quite often, I have had about 4 sunny days. When it does rain, it’s rarely a drenching rain but usually just a constant sprinkle. Nothing I cant handle.
Two Sundays ago, I arrived back in Bath after two weeks of traveling for our Easter break. Almost all of the exchange students in Bath chose to travel around the UK or Europe during our break, and it was a fantastic opportunity to see places I’ve always dreamed of visiting! Our first stop was Venice, so my friends and I left Bath on a 4:40 am airport bus. After switching buses in London, a flight, another bus to Venice, a water taxi ride, and lots of wrong turns through dark streets in the pouring rain, we were standing outside of our building by about 7pm. Our hostel was so small that it was only a few rooms on the middle floor of an apartment building, so we buzzed the outside doorbell to let us in. And we buzzed again….and again…. Calling the hostel’s phone number just gave a voicemail message (completely in Italian of course!) Finally, someone in another apartment must have gotten sick of the incessant buzzing, and opened the door to let us in to the courtyard within the building. Up the flight of stairs, we arrived at a door that said it was our hostel, but again – completely locked, and no one answering our knocking. We had almost given up, and were about to return to a nearby hotel to ask them to translate the hostel’s voicemail message. But, a nearby window showed that there was a TV on inside – somebody must be there! At this point, we were soaked, exhausted, and frozen. Our polite knocking became wild pounding on the door and windows, until finally, another traveler heard the noise from within her room and opened the door for us. A few minutes later, the hostel owner returned, surprised to find us inside as he returned from the supermarket. I’ve never been so happy to have a bed and a place to peel off my soaked socks. Luckily the rest of our stay went uphill from there, and we woke up the next morning ready to explore!
Can you believe it? The pen that wrote that squiggle in my book also happened to scribble the most successful book series of all time!
It sounds like a cliché dream of achieving the impossible in Britain, like sitting on a train by David Beckham or being hired to baby-sit Kate Middleton’s royal baby. But meeting J.K. Rowling wasn’t a spontaneous chance – ever since my friend Stephanie found online tickets in January, I had been counting down the days!
A highlight of the past few weeks was definitely our day spent in Oxford last weekend. It’s less than two hours from Bath by train, and was the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen! The entire town seems to revolve around the University, with over forty independent “colleges” scattered throughout the city.
Though Oxford’s dorms and classrooms are mixed in with city buildings and it doesn’t have UVA’s sprawling campus, both universities have really beautiful architecture. This was my favorite building in the whole city – the Radcliffe Camera. It was built as a medical library, but now is a gigantic reading room for an underground tunnel network of libraries underneath Radcliffe Square. A library inside of a rotunda… sounds familiar ?!
Three weeks ago, I read the blog prompt for “After your first month abroad” and with ignorant confidence, believed that two more weeks would take forever to come. Yet somehow I’m sitting here, pressed to write my post-first-month blog entry—now, over a week overdue.
The fact that I have been in Bath for five weeks is, in a word, shocking. The time has flown by in a whirlwind of class lectures, travel planning, actually traveling, and carousing with new friends. One of my professors once said, ‘Nobody ever goes abroad and regrets it’—a truer statement has never been made.