Ho hum…

Well this weeks blog is going to be short and sweet since the week has been pretty much consumed with getting into the swing of school and doing the usual grocery shopping and everyday stuff. But here are a few highlights of the week:

  • On Sunday I had my first ever Sunday Roast at a pub called Hobgoblins. I wasn’t too impressed. Although the beef was really good and the meal was very hearty I was a little too picky about the vegetables. Maybe this week we’ll try a new pub and see if I like that better!
  • Since many of us USACers don’t have class on Wednesday we made the trek into town for Thai food and signed up for several trips at a travel agency. There is a section of Brighton called the Lanes which is a tangle of alleys and sidewalks that cars can’t get to and is full of shops! I’ve yet to actually make a trip there to go shopping but on our search for the Thai restaurant and the travel agency I got to do a lot of window shopping! My next full day off you will definitely find me there hopefully with some shopping bags in hand!
  • Last night (Thursday) our friend Lars who is a USAC student from Denmark told us about a really sweet artist called Zeds Dead that was playing at a local bar. We had to get there by 10 pm to get in for free and when we got there we found out Zeds Dead wasn’t on until 2 am! Needless to saw we stuck around for the long haul and were well rewarded. The show was awesome and afterwards we snuck around the back to meet the artist himself. We were ecstatic but incredibly sleepy on the bus ride home which we paired with a bit of Burger King to keep us awake!
  • Today, we hit up one of our favorite ice cream and sweets shops in the Lanes called Cloud 9! Then we headed to the movie theater to see a British film called “Made in Dagenham.” Its about a group of female Ford factory workers in the 1960’s who demand equal pay for their work. It was a great movie that had me throwing up the Spice Girls “Girl Power” peace sign every other scene!


Things I’m loving: Getting almost all my travel plans in place, My professor telling the class she finds it hard to read for more than 3 minutes at a time (I always thought profs were magical reading machines), Google Talk, Galaxy caramel chocolate bars, my shortest walk to class ever,

Things I’m not quite loving: Feeling old at the bar when at home I’d be the youngest one there, Being so far away from the city center, Being on the wrong side of the currency exchange,

Things I’m learning: A lot about the UK’s social history from old school welfare laws to the fight to women’s right to equal pay in the 1960’s!

The next few weeks are going to be very exciting! Tomorrow morning I leave at 6 am for a weekend of visiting Warwick castle, Manchester, and Liverpool (THE BEATLES HOMETOWN!!!). I love the Beatles music but I know very little about their story so I am stoked to get to go to Liverpool. Also, every weekend from now until the end of November is pretty much booked up with travel plans or events! The rest of the semester is going to fly by and I’ll find myself in the Minneapolis Airport in the blink of an eye!

Peace, Love, Late Nights and Beatlemania!

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First Official Week of Senior Year!

Last weekend we took a field trip to East Sussex to do some site seeing and on Monday, I finally attended my first class of the semester (approximately 6 weeks after my Grand Forks counterparts). It was nice to finally have something mandatory to do! My first class was Social Inequalities which was interesting as we had a presentation on the Roma “Gypsy” people in Europe. It was refreshing to learn about a minority group that is not often talked about in my Social Work classes at home. The rest of my classes are fairly similar to UND and I am also taking a French class which is a lot harder than I thought since I try to say French words the way I learned Spanish! Luckily I have a few friends in that class to help me out!
My class schedule is pretty much ideal! I don’t have class on Wednesday or Friday which gives me plenty of free time to travel and just experience England. This week I definitely did not take advantage of my fabulous schedule though and I’ve been plotting out my next couple long weekends to make the most out of my time here! So far I have trips to Wales, Amsterdam, Spain, and hopefully the French Riviera (cross your fingers I’ve caught on to French by then!) planned! The other great thing about my schedule is that I have a free week off in the beginning of November (As if not starting til October wasn’t enough!) to plan more trips!
 Besides the start of classes this week went by pretty uneventfully. Except for my new adventures in British cheerleading! On Monday, myself and two other USAC girls went to try out for the squad just to get more involved at our school, meet some more people, and maybe get a few laughs out of it but after hearing the commitment requirements and the price for the uniforms we decided our time and money would be better spent elsewhere. As we left the tryouts the captain started chatting with us and convinced me (not the other girls though) to try out still. She said that since we were exchange students they were very flexible with our commitment and we didn’t have to dish out the money for uniforms since we wouldn’t be here when the uniforms came in. I think they have had American girls in the past who knew a lot about cheerleading and were very helpful to the squad so that’s why they were so accommodating for me. So after a pretty basic tryout  I made the squad! On Wednesday, I went to the first practice and I was surprised at how much I remembered after not cheering for almost 5 1/2 years! I even got to fly in a stunt! And just like everything in England, after practice the Cheerleading thing turned into one big party! Because the squad is sponsored by a local bar it was a REQUIREMENT for all cheerleaders to go to the bar, spend a little money, and party with the American Football team. Apparently many sports teams have these “Socials” after weekly practice and each week is a different theme! This weeks theme was “Life’s a Beach” and next week is Initiation (eek! I don’t know what that entails!).  It was fun because a lot of the girls and guys were amazed by what its like to cheer and play football in America and everyone wanted to hear stories of my days as a high school cheerleader. One guy told me that nobody watches high school sports in England which was shocking to me as Friday night football games are a staple event at home! After the bar, which was more of a pre-party, we all got VIP stamps and got to jump the line (British: “Queue”) at Brighton’s biggest club, Oceana. Oceana is 7 clubs in one and brags that you can “travel the world in one night” because  each club is designed to be a different country.  There were so many people in line for a Wednesday that I was so glad to get to jump the line! It was definitely a fun night out and I’m looking forward to next week’s practice and social!

Things I’m loving: How inexpensive Blackberry services are (5 pounds vs 30 dollars) and finding more and more ways to communicate home, the song Good Times by Roll Deep, Paying 6 pounds for my books for the semester, Eaton Mess (a cream, meringue, and fruit desert), Being a cheer flyer after a 5 year break and the perks of being a cheerleader in Brighton, Cheesy chips (American: “Cheesy French Fries”) at 3 am after a night out from a kebab shop or home-made by English flat mates, Finding new ways to entertain ourselves like jungle theme parties and seeing how many people one USACer can jump over,

Things I’m not quite loving: Still having to take the unreliable bus everywhere, Not being able to vote for UND Homecoming king and queen, Receiving emails about terrorist plots in London, Not knowing where to get a cheap pedicure,

Things I’m Learning: “When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.” -Thornton Wilder

This coming week I don’t have any big plans. I may make a trip next weekend to visit some English friends or I may just give myself time to get back into the swing of school work after a 4 1/2 month hiatus. A few of us have talked about exploring the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and hitting up a few new pubs but other than that the week is totally open!

Peace, Love, Cheer and a Bit of Homesickness.

The video for my favorite song to dance to at the club!

Cartwheels at the site of the Battle of Hastings! The Battle Abbey is in the background.

Another long bus ride home.. Luckily we’ve got Cheesy Chips!

Beautiful chalk cliffs just outside Eastbourne in East Sussex.

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A taste of Freshers Week and A trip to Scotland

Sunday marked the start of Freshers week and along with it came much inconvenience and excitement for me. With the huge influx of students moving into Brighton campuses on Sunday it was nearly impossible to get anywhere on the bus system. In an attempt to meet up with friends to watch a football match at a pub I ended up riding and/or waiting for the bus for almost 3 hours in the rain only to get fed up and head home without finding anyone. I was so close to just calling it a day and cuddling up in bed when some other USACers invited me to their flat where their new English flatmates had just moved in and were planning to attend the night-time Freshers events. I couldn’t pass up the chance to experience Freshers week with actual English Freshers. After meeting a handful of other students we headed to a club that was hosting a Freshers event. It was packed with students and I was finally catching the vibe that Brighton was the quintessential college town I had heard so much about!

On Monday evening, I left for Edinburgh, Scotland. After such a crazy night at the first Freshers event I was a little disappointed to be missing the rest of the week. But I knew Scotland had plenty of fun in store as well. The airport was a bit of an adventure as they didn’t assign a gate for my flight until 5 minutes before boarding and I experienced my first ever body pat down at security which was quite alarming. I safely arrived in Edinburgh where my camp friend Danielle and her roommate Lucy picked me up. They go to school (British: “Uni”) in Stirling and we hit the town running. Monday nights are student nights at the local clubs and we went out for a night of cheap cover charge and drinks. One of the great things about being a student in the UK is there are discounts for students everywhere! On attractions, at clubs and restaurants, on buses… Some clothing stores even give students up 20% off! I know I get a free pop at Qdoba in Grand Forks if I show my student ID but that’s all I’ve ever gotten! The next few days we took advantage of the discount even more and headed to the Stirling Castle, Edinburgh bus tours, Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Dungeons, and the William Wallace Monument in Stirling. Stirling is filled with Scottish history as at times it was one of the main places to cross to the Highlands. My favorite part of the Stirling castle was a set of tapestries they are working on recreating called “The Hunt of the Unicorn.” You could watch as expert weavers put together tapestries that they work on for years at a time to be precise replicas of tapestries from 100’s of years ago! The city of Edinburgh is also a site to see and the most memorable part of our day there was definitely the Edinburgh Dungeons. Although the dungeon walls are obviously painted to appear to be hundreds of years old and the tour guides know more about acting than history, this tourist hotspot sure had Danielle and I clinging to each other in fear! The Dungeons mixed a bit of historical information with a lot of exaggerated characters to create a super creepy experience.With all the site seeing I think the best part of my trip to Scotland was just hanging out with Danielle and Lucy. It was great to catch up with an old friend but also to see a little bit of how my friends live everyday in another culture too. The girls got me hooked on some British television shows and I was amazed at how many different accents their friends had (Some I could barely understand)! My trip home was kind of a struggle (delayed flight, missing the last train, having to take 2 buses both of which were late etc.) and after my experience on Sunday I am beginning to have huge doubts about relying on public transportation! It was good to be back in Brighton and today, although incredibly rainy, was very relaxing.

Things I’m loving: Bannaffee Pie (Banana Toffee Pie), Student discounts everywhere, Finally getting my Skype working, Don’t Tell the Bride TV show, Scottish street performers singing Johnny Cash, Shopping (and sometimes getting mega-discounts) at Top Shop and Republic, Getting hot cocoa and a chocolate stir stick at Costa,

Things I’m not quite loving: Not having a car and an unreliable bus system, Still missing events at home and UND,

Things I’m learning: To cook meat (I’ve seriously never done it!)

Tomorrow we’re taking a field trip to East Sussex (it’s supposed to rain.. eek!), Sunday my best friend from camp, Becy, is coming to visit, and Monday classes finally start! I am signed up to take Women Writers, Social Policy, Social Inequality, and a beginning French class. Also on Monday a few of us girls are gonna try out for cheerleading! I cheered a bit in high school but I’m definitely rusty and have no idea if it’s the same here so wish me luck! I’m pretty excited for what is to come the next couple days! Its gonna be an exciting and busy week!

Peace, Love, Banaffee Pie and First Day of School.

The Unicorn is Found Tapestry at Stirling Castle.

Danielle and I at Edinburgh Castle.

After climbing the 246 steps of the Wallace Monument.

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First week whirlwind!

Early on September 17th, I took off from Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport and made the long trek over the Atlantic ocean (with a short layover in Charlotte, NC). The trip was uneventful and I arrived safe and sound in London’s Gatwick airport at 7 am on September 18th. I took a train into Brighton (which was an easy enough task even though I had been worried about navigating that part of the trip) and took a cab to the hostel I was staying in that night since I couldn’t move into my residence hall until the next day. I’d never stayed in a hostel before and was a little nervous about the proper etiquette and procedures. I arrived around 10 am and was told I could not check in until 2 or 2:30. This was the last thing I wanted to hear after being up for almost 24 hours. I dropped my bags and wandered to the pier. The Brighton pier and the view of the channel and the shoreline is beautiful but I was still a bit frazzled and called one of my English friends to defuse my distressed state. I took out a deck chair on the pier and read a magazine for a while then went to explore the shore line. After what felt like an eternity I finally checked in to my room (an 8 bed dorm room shared with 2 German girls, 2 South Korean guys, and a handful of English party girls) and fell right to sleep. I have never had trouble sleeping the day away so I pretty much slept until the next morning with the exception of a 5 am wake up from my party girl roommates (which pleasantly reminded me of late nights at my sorority).

The next day I took a cab to the University of Brighton-Falmer Campus and checked in to my flat. The Falmer campus is a short bus ride from Brighton but in order to do anything (eat, socialize, shop, etc.) outside of 9-5 Monday through Friday you have to go into Brighton. The flats are very similar to dorm rooms at UND except there is a shared kitchen space and I have my own bathroom (this was a very exciting discovery as I have never had my own bathroom!). After unpacking and trying to set up my internet I started to worry that I would have to spend the night as the lone occupant of my three flat building. Fortunately, 2 other USAC students showed up and I was no longer alone!

Since then the rest of the USAC students have shown up and life has been one big adventure. Although I speak the language here everything I do is still a new experience and takes some getting use to. We’ve made one big trip into London to site see and today a few of us took the train to Lewes, a small picturesque town just outside of Brighton and full of history, yet some of the best adventures have been grocery shopping, finding a meal, and navigating the bus system! For example, at the grocery store (or in British: “the supermarket”) I had no idea what to buy and when I went to get a cart (British: “Trolley”) I couldn’t get it to come out… turns out it costs a pound to use a cart! Finding a meal was a challenge last Sunday evening as most pubs put on Sunday roast meals in the afternoon and once they run out they don’t have anything else! We wandered around Brighton for an hour before we finally found a place with food! We learned our lesson though and tomorrow we all plan to go very early and officially experience English Sunday roast!

Things I am loving: My own bathroom, Drinking Cider with meals, Going on new adventures everyday, Knowing that with my class schedule I’ll have plenty of free time to travel, Watching Netball and Soccer (British: “Football”) outside my window, Exploring the Brighton pub and club scene, Fairly inexpensive drink specials and my favorite drink (Vodka Redbulls) coming in a pitcher!

Things I am not quite loving: Never being full (Portions are smaller here and I’m failing at cooking for myself), My hair straightener not working, Not having sorority sisters to help in moments of mishap (like curling the back of my hair or choosing the right shoes for an outfit) especially since most my flat mates are guys, missing the big fall events at UND,

Things I am learning: I do not like to travel and site see alone (I have friends who can do this for weeks but I definitely need some companionship to enjoy my travels), Never see the movie “Hostel”,

I should be finding out my final class schedule with in the next few days (classes don’t start until Monday October 4th) but it looks like I’ll be taking mostly social science classes and French, just for the fun of it! I’m very excited for classes to start and along with that is a welcome week called Freshers week! Apparently most universities have this week which is more like one big party as opposed to the American version of welcome week which is a sort of orientation. Also, on Monday I am heading to Scotland for 3 days to visit a friend from camp! I’m pumped to see what her University is like as well as site see in Edinburgh and Stirling.. Not to mention spending time with a great friend!

Peace, Love, Cheap Flights and Freshers.

Testing out the Icy Brighton Waters

The Brighton Pier from the Shoreline

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Almost time for takeoff

This time next week I will be enveloped in international student orientation at the University of Brighton. But right now my mind is so wrapped up in thoughts of packing, visas, getting from the airport to my flat etc. that being settled in at school in the UK seems like light years away.

I leave Thursday morning at 10 am from the MSP airport with a 4 hour layover in North Carolina. I’ve traveled to the UK once the summer after my freshman year of college with family but I’m still very nervous for navigating the airports and going through immigration and such all by myself. I am currently trying to figure out the details of my arrival since my plans to stay with a friend for a few nights before I move into my flat fell through. It’s a little nerve-racking since I won’t be meeting anyone from my program until I have been there for a few days. It will definitely be an interesting experience from the start.

This being my first official blog post I suppose I should write a little about myself and my plans for my study abroad:

  • I am a social work student at the University of North Dakota and am also pursuing a minor in Nonprofit Leadership and Women’s Studies. I can not register for my courses in Brighton until I arrive but I plan to take classes that will count for credit in my Women’s Studies minor or take courses relating to Social Work. I think learning a different perspective from a different country on either topic will be very interesting and useful in my future career.
  • I grew up in Cambridge, MN but have called St. Paul, MN my hometown for the past 7 years. From what I can tell Brighton is around the same size as St. Paul and I am excited to experience the English college student lifestyle in a metropolitan area of this size. I have been told that Brighton is a “Quintessential college town”!
  • Another important aspect to my trip is that I have quite a few friends on the other side of the pond that I will hopefully get to visit! I have worked at a summer camp for the past two summers (Camp L. and UCG SHOUT OUT!) and worked with loads of co-staff from the UK and a few other places in Europe. I plan to visit a lot of my friends so I can see what different parts of the UK are like and become even more submersed in the culture of the country. Plus after spending so much time with my British friends I already have a list of things I must do while i’m over there which includes shopping at Primark (a super inexpensive clothing store I have heard amazing things about), attending a Carnage event (A sort of pub crawl that from my friends experiences is a recipe for potential disaster..), filling my computer play lists with music from British hip-hop groups like Ndubz, and so much more!

Well I better get back to packing. I leave in approximately 42 hours! Wish me luck! Let’s hope the next time I write I’ll be sitting in my living room in Brighton being distracted by flatmates and making plans to head to the Brighton Pavilion.

Peace. Love. Nerves and Packing.

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