My London Adventure

For Good

Wicked

Last night we went to see Wicked as our “end of semester treat.” And this week marks a lot of lasts. We had our last art class. We took our theater final. Our semester is quickly winding down.

And this semester has taught me a lot. I mean, I learned about London and its history (more than I like, if we’re being honest). I learned about Children’s Literature. I learned about Art and Theater. But I really learned about life.

I learned about the unfamiliar. I learned to cope with living with 5 other girls. I learned about grocery shopping. I learned about a different way of life.

And I met some of the most wonderful people on the way.

At graduation, 2 years ago, a few girls sang this song. And I had never seen Wicked, so I never really had a context for this song. Lemme give you some context. In the musical, Elphaba meets Glinda and they are stuck as roommates. They eventually become best friends and this song a duet is near the end of the show, when they have gotten over their differences and are parting ways forever. So, woah, go graduation. Good choice, ladies.

But, in context of this semester, I know I have made a few really close, really strong relationships. And I also know I will never see most of these people again. And for some of them, that’s not such a bad thing. I know it isn’t going to be bad for me to never see them again. They taught me what they needed to teach me, and that’s that.

I think it’s valuable to learn that. Sometimes, you just have to let people go, because they weren’t meant to be in your life forever. And if you learn what you were supposed to from them, they never really leave, because your relationship with them was fruitful.

My flatmates taught me so much. They taught me patience (which is going to be an ongoing lesson, for a long time; but they did help it along). They taught me to bite my tongue. They taught me the  value of communicating. And that sometimes, you just have to walk away and cool off, all of which I knew, but needed to practice.

My roommates taught me to be confident when I get dressed up. And apparently it is okay for me to wear a mini-skirt and not look like an idiot. Not that I think I’ll be wearing them a whole lot. But apparently I can dress cute and not look dumb. And also, Ali was apparently right, and you have to wear mascara with eyeliner or your face doesn’t look right.

In addition, if nothing else, they taught me I don’t ever want to live the 5 people to whom I have no relation. 2 other people is a stretch. Not 5. Ever again.

My teachers taught me a bunch of things. Dr. Romig taught me about understanding Children’s books. And reminded me how much I love to read. I forgot how important it was to me because I was always so busy, that if I was reading, I knew I should have been reading a textbook, and Sneaky Gabi got around that by just not reading. She reminded me that reading is good for me and reading fixes my life.

Ian’s Theater class reminded me how much I love theater. I love the fun of it. I love watching it. And I need to do something with that when I get home. And I learned I can appreciate a show without loving it. And he taught us to express our opinions, which is not a thing we are frequently taught. He taught us that just because your opinion “might be rubbish, it’s your rubbish” and we need to be proud of that.

The Holcombs introduced me to all kinds of new foods I had no idea I liked, because I was so sure I didn’t like them. Uhm, hello. Try new food. You won’t always like it (fish and chips) but you might be pleasantly surprised (Thai food). And Mrs. Dr. Holcomb gave me some pointers for studying, because that is a skill I am still honing.

My new friends reinforced my feelings about family dinners (which have always been a big thing in my family).  That needs to be a thing for me, always. That’s a deal-breaker. We need to eat together, and talk. Not just eat in front of a movie or show or a phone. Dinner is a good time to socialize. But don’t talk to me with a mouthful of food, because that’s gross. And I learned all kinds of new games for a night in. That’s been wonderful.

And I learned how much my parents taught me, how much they instilled in me: good manners; intelligence; common sense. You don’t show up to someone’s house to eat without something to contribute. You always offer to help with the dishes, even if no one else does. You say please and thank you. If you go to someone’s house and they serve you something you’ve never had, you try it and pretend to like it, even if you don’t; you can always get something when you get home. You look both ways, twice when you cross the street. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’t be a space cadet.

So, to everyone who had a hand in my education, formal or informal, I thank you. I do believe I have changed for the better. I have grown this semester (though not physically, because some of us haven’t grown since 7th grade). Thank you. And if this is good bye, good luck.

My London Adventure

Adjusting to London Time

In only a few days, I feel like I have done so much already.

I was up for a million hours to try to adjust to the time change.

Thank God I slept on the plane. There was no way I would have made it without that.

A 6 hour time difference is so weird. It’s not like a 10 hour difference, where my evening is their morning [their refers to anyone in Texas]. It’s like, my afternoon is their early morning and by the time they’re free, it’s time for bed, or I’m free and they need to go to bed, so it’s strange.

I met a lot of new people (and know everyone’s face and name, though maybe not together).

I have the impression that some of these people are going to be friends for life. I really like a lot of the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. It’s a very interesting dynamic.

Group Photo in front of St. Paul's Cathedral

I got a little itty bitty phone to use locally.

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Our teachers asked that we get a phone for them to use to get in touch with us, and us them, in the event that there are last minute changes to the schedule.

I went to the store and picked up a phone with a few of my fellow classmates. For £20, I got my phone, 150 local minutes and unlimited texts for the month. Next month, I’ll “top up” for £10 and I will have the same plan. And, the guy at the store told me that my phone is “unlocked.” That means that if, when I come home, I want to use this magical little phone, all I have to do is put a SIM card in it, and it’ll work. So, cool.

I went to see Billy Elliot.

This was a musical about a little boy whose mother just died and whose father is a miner on strike. One day he stays late after his boxing lesson and ends up in the ballet class. The play centers around his struggle between what he wants and what his father wants.

It was a beautiful show.

The little boy who played Billy was so talented. It was impressive. He was dancing and singing, sometimes solo. The whole cast was very talented. But watching someone his age, who couldn’t have been older than 12 sing and dance and act that way was impressive.

I managed to learn how the Tube system here works. Sorta.

They [and in this case, they refers to our teachers, who hate us] sent us on a scavenger hunt type game called the Tube Rally. It was a tool they like to use. They put us in groups and we have to go to specific place and answer questions and take a picture, so there was proof that we were actually there.

Except, the tube system is very well planned here. Color coded and all that. And when I say that, I mean the colors on the paper maps (which they did not provide to us; it’s okay, they’re available at most of the stations) match the colors on the big maps on the walls, which match the colors on the signs which match the rails in the actual cars. They’ve got their public transportation figured out here.

Thus, a 6 hour game was not necessary.

I tried fish and chips.

I don’t like fish. I never have. I used to like shrimp, but somewhere along the way I decided I didn’t like that either. After our Tube Rally, they took us for a celebratory dinner of fish and chips. And I almost didn’t go but I decided to because bonding and free food and all that.

I tried a bit of it and didn’t touch it again. I did eat all the chips (they’re french fries, for anyone who didn’t know). Besides the fact that I couldn’t get over it was fish, Lisa found little bones in hers and that really turned me off. But, when in Rome.

So. I have tried fish and chips. And never will again.

I walked about a million miles.

There is none of that driving thing when you’re a group of 30+. We walk everywhere. To the grocery story. To the cell phone store. To the bus stops or the train stations. To the restaurants. Everywhere.

The first full day we were here, we got up and walked all morning, trying to get our phones and picking up some little things. And then they took us on a historical walking tour of the neighborhood. For. Four. Hours. And we were walking the whole time. And then the next day, they sent us on that Tube Rally, which was a lot of walking, because our group didn’t do enough planning to start. So. Walking. All the time.

I stumbled onto two parades.

During that Tube Rally we had to go to Buckingham Palace. While we were there, there was a group of horsed-guards. That was interesting.

A little later, we were walking down Whitehall Street, and we saw a bunch of people dressed in kilts with bag pipes. Gabe, one of the boys on my team, really wanted to sit somewhere and he was hungry. But when he saw them, he was so excited (like, I think that’s the most excited I’ve seen him so far). He didn’t complain once while we were watching them. And then he complained when they left. It was very impressive. I have a video I’m working on posting; be patient.

I went to a church service in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

We went to an Anglican service called Sung Eucharist.

It was so impressive. Talk about being in awe of God. It was a beautiful service. And so impressive. I guess I hadn’t realized all of the similarities between it and the Catholic church. It was very similar to a mass I would go to at home.

The choir was amazing. The people were so talented. And the acoustics in the church were great. It felt surreal. But, then again, everything does.

And this is just the beginning.

Classes start tomorrow, and I cannot wait.

More pictures are on the way. I haven’t figured out how I want to share them. I’m working on it.

My London Adventure

An Adventure Awaits

My first semester, my Freshman Seminar teacher told us he is the coordinator of the London Studies Program. He then proceeded to take on of our classes to discuss the program. And everyone was pretty much hooked, as I’m sure you can imagine. He explained a program that sounded pretty close to a 4 month vacation for college credit.

I managed to talk myself out of it because, well, 4 months away from home sounded like a lot and I was applying to be an RA and thought it would make it hard for them to hire me knowing I was going across the world for a semester. When I didn’t get an RA position last spring, I applied to go to London, because I figured after that, I’d be working and I wouldn’t get to go. No time like the present and all that.

I was accepted, obviously.

There were a lot of complications once I decided I was going. The road getting to this point was kinda long. There were setbacks with my passport. There were things that didn’t pan out the way I planned. But here I am.

Today was spent picking up last minute things (which is code for buying the bulk of the things I needed). This evening was spent packing and cleaning. And, as I’m sure you can imagine, this blog is now being used as a means of procrastination from finishing.

I have found that I pack like a crazy person (which means I pack things I could probably get there, but I am a girl and I do like my particular brands). I have found that it is hard to not just freak out and hope things will just be taken care of. And I know that this will probably be the highlight of my college career.

This trip will be a lot of firsts for me.

So, London, here I come. I am so excited. And can’t wait to begin the greatest adventure of my life thus far.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #31: Complaints ≠ Change

It has come to my attention that there are just some complainy people (that’s a word now; I said it and that’s how new words happen) in the world. And that’s fine. You wanna complain about the mile-long to-do list you’ve got going, or the stuff you’ve gotta fill out, or the twelve tests you’ve got this week, or the people around you, go for it. More power to you that you know what’s wrong in your life. So happy for you. Now, go complain somewhere else. Out of my earshot.

I am not about that life. I try so hard to see the positive side of things. And even if I don’t, because honestly, I don’t always, I know, or figure out, how (I recognize I’m still learning; shhh, don’t tell my parents that)  to fix it. And I know my complaining isn’t going to change anything. Complaining might make me feel better. I recognize the occasional need to vent. But I know it doesn’t change a thing.

Last year in my developmental psych class we read about a thing called “corumination.” Corumination is when friends repeatedly mull over problems and negative emotions together. This is more common in women, for sort of obvious reasons. This is a problem because, in addition to prolonging negative feelings, it can lead to making the problem worse. The general consensus among those who discussed it was that it can be helpful in moderation.

Now, why in Heaven’s name did I just go on a rant about concepts in psychology. Well, I’m so glad you asked (thanks Dr. Crawford, for your wonderful lecture techniques rubbing off on me; I appreciate it. For everyone who does not attend my school or has not taken his class, Dr. Crawford is the Dean of the College of Christian Studies and my Old Testament class; his lectures usually have some form of what I just said in them, sometimes more than once).

Corumination and complaining are pretty close if you ask me. And they fall into the same bucket. In moderation, complaining is fine. Get someone to empathize with you. Feel better about your problems. And fix them. Because (and I’m about to drop a wisdom bomb on you, so brace yourself) WE’VE ALL GOT PROBLEMS. And they are all so important to us. And that’s great. But complaining isn’t going to fix them.

Getting off your rear and fixing them is going to fix them. So. Fix it. Or stop worrying about it. Period.


Daily Prompt

Breathe

Today’s Daily Prompt is to write about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong and then you knew it would be okay. I have those on a regular basis. Here’s what they have taught me.

In this life, there are times when everything seems unbearably hard and like nothing is going to work out. As a college student, that happens all the time; more often than I’d care to admit, I think.

The thing that I have found to help me the most is to stop worrying. Sometimes, things are just out of our control and we have to understand that is the end of it.

That paper I should have started a month ago, got done, but I know it wasn’t perfect. That test I should  have studied for, it didn’t go very well. And that’s okay (though, not consistently, because I hear grades are important; so you really should try). At some point, you have to let go and recognize that, it’s done. Do better next time. Learn something about yourself. But move on.

I have days where I feel awful and like nothing is gonna get done and I’m not going anywhere, but if I think about it, the important things are taken care of. I have enough food; I have a roof over my head; I have the things I need. At some point, on every one of these days, it finally occurs to me that, somethings just don’t really matter. And when I hit that point, I know everything is going to be okay.

At some point, it also clicks that as rough as some days are, they will make wonderful stories at some point. One day, I’m going to laugh at how ridiculous it is that I worried about that thing or that person or that rule because they always seem so important at the time. And good stories are important.

Perks of Being a Wallflower One of my favorite movies, ever.
College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #28: Attention Gives Power

A few weeks ago in chapel the speaker gave us some tips about being happy in life.

The most important thing he said was that attention gives power. He explained that in today’s world we focus on the negative aspects of ourselves and our lives. Because we focus on the negative, we give the things we don’t like about ourselves and our lives power. If a person focuses on their inability to do something, say math, he won’t really be able to see all the things he does well, say english. He told us that we all have something significant to offer to the world but if we focus on the negatives, we won’t be able to share our gifts. In the same way, if we focus on the good things in our lives, what we need to do with our lives will be easy to find.

He then gave us 5 steps to being happy:

  1. Discover yourself His suggestion to discover yourself was to spend some time alone and really get to know who you are. What makes you happy? What do you want from life? What makes you passionate? All those questions that no one else can give answers to.
  2. Find good friends The speaker then explained the importance of good friendships. Friends should be around to help us and pick us up when we need a boost. A good friend has similar values to yours. Good friends are important because they help keep you on track. If people surround themselves with people who have goals similar to their own, they won’t keep you from your goals.
  3. Have a positive attitude He told us that negativity breeds negativity; in a similar way, positivity breeds positivity. Plus, no one wants to spend time with someone who is always upset at everything.
  4. Discover God’s plan for your life He basically told us that once we figure out what our purpose is, everything will fall into place.
  5. Have discipline He discouraged laziness because lazy people won’t get anywhere in life.

Lastly, he explained to us that “everything good doesn’t go together.” He was talking specifically about relationships. He meant that sometimes people just aren’t meant to be together. Not that one is bad for the other or anything. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think he meant that one person can’t do everything. It’s good to want to try everything and all that but not everyone is called to do the same things. People have to be unique or our society would be monotonous and boring.

Have a good rest of the week everyone.