This past week has been very interesting and entertaining. Although I’ve spent most of it hidding out in our flat (I literally left campus once during the week) trying to get my last minute work done, the excitement for the week came in the form of a snow storm! Earlier in the week we had seen a very very light snow fall that my friends from California were impressed with but I was sorely disappointed in. On Wednesday, I made a quick trip to the grocery store and then forced myself to write papers all day. To all of our surprise, the snow started coming down in heaps all afternoon into the evening. I think the whole of our housing complex was outside playing in the snow even after only an inch or two had fallen. Thursday morning we woke up to what we guessed was 8-10 inches and to all our excitement A SNOW DAY! Now I’ve had at least 50 snow days or delays in my life time but for some USACers this was their first ever (It was even one girls birthday present!) and we all took advantage by relaxing and playing in the snow. But not just the campus was closed, it seemed the whole of Brighton had shut down too. Because they don’t have snow plows and drive smaller cars, no one is very prepared for driving in this sort of weather. The buses and many trains stopped running and we were stranded up on our campus (thank goodness I’d just gone grocery shopping)! The only major bummer of being snowed in was that we had made plans for one last big night out in town with all USACers and we had no way to get there. So we compromised by all getting together in one flat and having a party together one last time. The best part was we got to take a break to go sledding (or in British: Sledging) and play in the snow together. All in all a great last night together.
On Saturday, we took off for a field trip to Oxford and Stratford Upon Avon. We spent the afternoon in Oxford where we saw some of the Oxford University college campuses, the Bodleian Library which is known for housing a copy of every published document in the English language, perused the shops, and stopped in for lunch at a local pub. Our next stop was Stratford Upon Avon where we were staying at a quaint bed and breakfast. Our beds in Brighton are actually pretty awful (I usually call them “cots” not beds) and the B&B’s beds felt like we were laying on clouds. It took all my will power not to fall asleep at 6 pm! We headed to a pub for some dinner and then found our way to the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre where we saw Matilda, A Musical. I have seen the movie Matilda before but the musical was something new to me. The coolest part about seeing the musical was the different interpretations they took from the British perspective that I never saw in the movie from the American perspective. After the musical, we walked back through town, admired the beautiful Christmas decorations and lighting, and crawled right into our cozy beds!
On Sunday, we woke up and had a proper English breakfast of course! Then our advisors took us on a short tour of Stratford Upon Avon and showed us the birthplace of William Shakespeare as that is what the town is most famous for. We had some free time so a few of us headed down to the riverfront for a beautiful view of the town life. As we wandered around I saw a store called Laura Ashley that I remember my mom shopping in when I was little but all the US branches have since closed. I stopped in and was greeted by the nicest sales people I had ever encountered. After seeing Stratford Upon Avon we headed to Warwick Castle. I had already been here in October when a few of us went to Liverpool but in October the castle was decorated for halloween and now it was decorated for Christmas. The great hall had a huge Christmas tree and decorations everywhere. We also went up on the walls of the castle and the outer towers which I hadn’t done the last time I was there and got to see a cool view of the surrounding town. From there we headed back to Brighton where I once again spent all too much time writing a paper due the next day.
Three months has come and almost gone. There were many moments that I wished I could be home with my friends enjoying my senior year with my best college friends in Grand Forks… and now I just want to make the days in Brighton last longer. I am very excited to go home and see my family and friends at last but I know the week ahead will be full of bittersweet tears. Starting today our Brighton USAC 2010 crew has begun to take off one by one for European travels or home and we’re all feeling nostalgic. We just aren’t ready to go yet… Although I’m sure if we were able to extend our time together we would never be quite ready to head back to the US and leave our Brighton home. The next couple days will consist of me trying to finish my last paper (I use the word last loosely since I have another to write and email in over Christmas break) early enough to enjoy my last full day off in Brighton with my USAC friends. I want to hit up a few places I haven’t seen yet and those of us who are still around want to do a final pub crawl night as well. Friday morning I will say goodbye to all my friends in Brighton and spend the weekend in Dublin with my Irish friend Shana. My study abroad experience as a whole will end happily though since I get to spend my last 5 nights in Europe having slumber parties with different camp friends. I will try to write next week when I get back from Dublin but there is a good chance this will be my last post from this side of the pond.
Things I’m Loving: A good first snow and being snowed in with great people, My first Bed and Breakfast experience, Random home owned pubs with friendly staff in every town we go to, Finding a Laura Ashley store (My mom use to shop there when I was little), Being days away from family, best friends, and Chipotle,
Things I’m not quite loving: Still having lots of Christmas shopping and what feels like not enough time to do it all, Saying goodbye to a great city and friends,
Things I’m learning: How to reach down deep and find my inner student who has been on a break since May and now needs to buckle down and get stuff done, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Peace, Love, Goodbyes and Hellos.
Jane and I at the beginning of the snow storm. I came out in my pajamas (I was wearing shorts under the long sweatshirt fyi) to prove that I was a tough Minnesotan who wasn’t phased by a little snow!