Wednesday, May 22, 2013

OFFICIAL POST- final reflective blog

Hello again everyone!

This is Erin from Grace's blog this time. It's hard to believe this is my final reflective blog already! Studying abroad in England and Wales this past month has been great, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have been able to do it. I have learned so many different things academically, culturally, socially, along with things about myself.

As a biology major, this trip was a history overload session for my brain! This was a good thing though. Having not been a huge fan of history related stuff before, I have a new appreciation for it. Everything I learned about English and Welsh history was very exciting, but it also makes me curious to read up on more of my American history and find out a bit more about my own background. Obviously I'm not an expert on the topic of castles and cathedrals now, but I feel like I could give someone who knows nothing about them, a generous amount of information about their designs, uses and history.

Culturally, I learned the British and American cultures have a lot of similarities, but quite a few differences as well. First off, it was very helpful that everyone spoke English here, or that could have made things rather difficult since Welsh sounds nothing like anything I've heard before. The people here are, for the most part nice, but just seem to be not as friendly as Midwesterners sometimes. Almost all of the food I ate I enjoyed, although some items like cockles I have no desire to ever eat again. Dessert shops were everywhere we went! This was awesome, but also dangerous to the waistline at the same time. I would have to say the two strangest things to me here, were that people drive on the left side of the road (which took some getting used to), and that dogs were allowed in many places they aren't in America. For example, we saw dogs in pubs and on trains.

I also learned many things about others and myself throughout this journey. About 10 days in I got homesick for a day or two, but with the limited wifi access, I had to learn to be a "big kid" and deal with that without my parents being there to tell me something comforting right away. In addition to that, being with the same 12 people 24/7 for 28 days straight can wear on a person. I did get tired of being around people sometimes, so I just distanced myself from people for a night, and things were usually better in the morning. I feel like I'm already pretty good at compromising with others, but I got to practice this skill multiple times when doing various activities, like deciding where to eat. In addition, I had to practice patience sometimes too.

My top five favorite sites we visited on this trip were Skipton Castle, William Shakespeare's birthplace, Gloucester Cathedral, Stonehenge, and London. Skipton was a favorite because it was the first castle we saw. It was huge, still intact, and magnificent since I had never seen anything like it before. Since William Shakespeare is such a well-known figure in history around the world, it was so neat to be able to see where this marvelous man was born. Gloucester Cathedral was so beautiful, ornate and detailed that it was hard to keep my jaw from dropping. It was also the site of some Harry Potter filming, which definitely adds to its presence. Then, Stonehenge was so cool to see in person! I never thought I would get the opportunity to see something that old and well-known in person, but I'm so grateful to have been able to. And of course, London was amazing! Westminster Abbey is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. Plus, we got to visit Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliment, Buckingham Palace, London Tower, M&M World, Hard Rock Cafe, and many other great sites along the way.

As this trip comes to an end, I feel so blessed to have had the chance to see and do everything I did in the past four weeks. I also strengthened my relationship with my roommate/friend Morgan, and made a new great friend, Grace. I can't wait now to get back and share all of my photos and stories from the trip with my family and friends. Thank you everyone for reading about our adventures in the UK, and we'll see you all soon!

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