It’s my fifth day here in Leicester, UK. A lot has happened already.
To begin, I would like to comment on that diagram that the study abroad staff have presented to us. You know the one: the little curve detailing how our emotions will fluctuate, from “honeymoon phase” to “culture-shock and depression” and finally to “adaptation.” Well, until last Friday, I apparently skipped the honeymoon phase and dived straight into depression.
It started off as frustration, frustration with the University bus service being late, administration being completely unorganized and unprepared, and frustration with not getting into one of the modules I desperately wanted. There was too much happening that was out of my control. In San Diego, I know how to handle my schedule, who to contact if I have problems, and how to waitlist or crash a class I really want. Here, I know nothing. That is scary.
When I was told that there was no such thing as a wait list and no opportunity to crash the class that I was DYING to take, I was devastated. When I heard that another girl in my study abroad group got into that class, I was in tears. At this point, I was ready to be alone, away from the welcoming committee and away from the other study abroad students huddling together. I was disappointed and wanted to go home. The only thing that cheered me up was dinner that evening, which was much tastier and more bountiful than I expected.
That evening, after dinner, I messaged my friend Hannah who lives in England and expressed my anguish. As the wonderful friend she is, she consoled me and we ended the conversation with plans for me to visit her over the weekend. It turns out a trip on my own was exactly what I needed. My friend Hannah lives on the Isle of Wight, which is about 5-6 hours away from where I live. I had only just arrived in Leicester, but I was excited to see my friend, so I booked the ticket for two coaches, one stopping in London and the other in Portsmouth.
On my way to the coach station in Leicester, I got lost, which is very common for me, but I left early so I was in no rush. The more I got lost, the better I felt. I walked through Leicester lanes, the city centre, and other places I can’t remember the names of. I asked many people for directions and everyone was super nice and helpful. I watched families walking around, kids running into their favorite shops, eating their favorite treats.
The buildings surrounding me were so gorgeous, strong, and antique-looking. In fact, from what people I spoke to told me, many buildings in Leicester were built in the 1800s and prior. I was loving my stroll through these streets. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of city centre because my phone was low on battery—as phones usually are when it matters. But the experience was EXACTLY what I needed to cheer me up.
Three hours later, I was in the London coach station. Once again, the architecture was beautiful, the parks were green, and the smell from all the Indian restaurants had me salivating. Sticking to my budget, I only bought a double-decker candy bar and a bottle of water. I definitely recommend double-decker if you like whatchamacallits… very yummy!
Finally, I took the ferry and arrived at the Isle of Wight. When I saw Hannah, she looked exactly the same and we began talking and laughing like we had just seen each other the day before. The weekend was so much fun. The Isle of Wight is breathtaking. It was freezing cold, but beautiful and relaxing. I especially loved the pebbly beaches—I had never seen one before.
Oh, and I had myself some fish and chips! (Chips as in fries.) I loved the fries with vinegar. I am definitely gonna start doing that now. But I wasn’t too crazy about the fish. I think I’ll try crab on chips next time. I love crab.
I am back in Leicester now, just arrived back yesterday, and I am ready for my new semester. Class starts in just a couple hours, so I will be leaving soon. I’ll let you know how classes go and I will be sure to take more pictures of Leicester city centre!
Take-away message of the day: No matter where you go, the school administration will always frustrate you to your wits end, but if you get lost, eat a yummy candy bar, and meet with old friends, everything will be fine.
Thanks for reading! 🙂