Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Put Your Feet in Another Person's Shoes and Fall… And Get Up- My Study Abroad Experience

...aka - set up goals and expectations, but be prepared if they fail.

So, my first study abroad experience has ended. Wow, that was fast. If forced to summarize it in a nutshell, the best and worse piece of advice I can give is that- you have to experience it yourself- which is the most annoying advice and summary ever. I discovered this because everyone's study abroad experience turned out to be different, even for those in the same home university going to the same school with the same majors under the same circumstances.

     In a more chronological nutshell- for 2012-2013, I studied at University of East Anglia in Norwich, Norfolk, which is about 2 hours northeast from London by train (I fuckin' love trains!). The classes I took were history and literature courses, mostly to give myself a break from my own creative process and seeing what happens to my perspective and knowledge when I return. Over Christmas break, I went to Europe with a flatmate (I fuckin' love REAL castles). I'd been sporadically trying to make vlog and blog posts about random shit and things, but lost my camera in Czech Republic. The spring semester rolled by suddenly way too fast, and then the next thing I knew, it was final exams, then a trip through Wales and Scotland with a close friend, and then -BAM- I'm home all of a sudden and have to get over jet lag whilst attending summer school classes. F**k.
      Other highlights of the year? Learning how to cook, and how not to cook at fuckin' long last. First time going to clubs. Trains, castles, museums! Books! (No really- they deserve a special gold metal compared to books in the US- much better taste). Old stuff! The reality of Europe's landmarks! Seeing and being in snooooow for the first time. Dance competition at Loborough. Jailbreak- man, I still wish I'd actually participated so bad. Oh, I shouldn't forget doing coursework, should I? Or final exams. And all my dying in Brecon Beacons and the Scottish highlands.
     Of course, this doesn't mean studying abroad was all rainbows and sunshine- if anything, the reality is far from that. (Kind of. Depending on each person.) I think one thing that separated me a little was that this was my first time living independently away from home. Ever. That's kind of funny- because when I left home to go to England, I was super ultra excited to live on my own. (I didn't even cry, but when I realized my time in England/UK was shortening and I'd have to go back home to the US, I was like- oh no, not yet!) But, going back to the you-must-experience-it-yourself, it was an effective, albeit painful in the long run, way to pretty much force myself to attempt living in a different way. I think going into such an independent experience without any practice or background beforehand, and especially coming from a community that I was attached to, made me stumble much worse than I'd prepared. So yea, failures happened. If you just look at this post, you'll find out I barely made it through 1/15th of my desired visiting locations (for example- I was in Scotland, but never visited Isle of Skye or Loch Ness, dammit). There were a ton of other things I never accomplished and a ton of other mini-epiphanies I'd hit about real life and real people and, shockingly, real history. (Europe had one helluva messier history than America did).
     Part 2 to this story, though, is real things I've learned, not just by book, but by real experience. I've plopped that into a rushed vlog I shot at the airport here:

And last of all, thanks to so so so many people: my friends and family back home, Caron/Jatta, Lauren, Margaret, Katy, Alice, Kerry, Clara/Phillipine, Hazel, Sophie and Sophie/Georgia, Kyle, Fan, Anastasiya, Toi, Ava, Collin, Pit, Bunty, Frizby, Jason, Min, Darkmk, and everyone in Dance Squad, Pride, Fell, and the AVs. As for some outstanding professors I met there- Hilary Emmett (advisor), Victor and Jake from The Gothic, Jon and Sara of Landscape 1, Nola Merckel from European Lit, Polly and Malcolm from History of Witchcraft, and the DOS Staff.
     So, to all the people I met in England and Europe, I will miss you all so so much and hope to meet y'all some day in the future. Cheers.

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