Journals from Fall 2010, University of Nottingham, England
2010-11-01 Not all that glitters is gold
My path from class to Derby.
7 October 2010
Reading over this entry, I am quite hesitant to post it. It isn’t a typical “about the country” blog. Instead, it covers the very confusing and strange emotions one goes through when faced with the complete unknown. For that reason alone, I have decided to submit it. While I fully believe that studying abroad is the best thing anyone can do, I also believe that people shouldn’t be embarrassed or afraid that they’re not loving it every single second. Although this is a very deeply emotional post, I feel that there is much to be gained from reading it.
A week or so ago, I created a blog post in my head. It described my love for England, pre-arrival, as a bright burning flame, truly believing that the English were simply better than any other type of people on the planet, that it was THE place to live and learn and be. It went on to say how the English people smothered that. Smothered my love, my joy at their existence. I had come to realize that they were absolutely ordinary. Just like Americans. Just as rude, inconsiderate, young, childish, immature. Just as wrapped up in their own little world, unconcerned with the breaking heart of a little girl who had never been able to explain why she loved England so; she simply did. At that point, I had been crushed. Disappointed. I knew that when you set incredibly high standards, of course reality has nothing to do but fail to reach them. And yet. It was a crushing blow.
Then I got over it. And while those five words really cannot do justice to how I felt, that’s simply what happened. Obviously, despite my disappointment, I couldn’t stay in bed. I hid behind being sick as a reason to not go out, but there were classes to attend. Friends' events. Shopping. Then suddenly, I could actually name people I knew that weren’t from Linfield. That were from Texas, London, Germany. This list is by no means extensive, but it’s certainly a start. Then the sun came out. As I walked to class (all twenty minutes of hills and stairs and pedestrian-unfriendly roads), there was something different about the world. The sky was the same shade of blue Oregon gets. The grass just as green (and hiding the same mud and muck). But it felt different. It felt ubiquitously English. It felt wonderful. I loved walking to class. I loved feeling the sun on my face, just looking around at the same things I’ve been looking at every day since I’ve been here (24 days now, I believe). I still cannot tell you what is different. People in general weren’t suddenly nicer; no one was falling at my feet to be my friend. My classes were still interesting, if a little basic. The food certainly didn’t improve. And yet.
Does that mean I’m on cloud nine, happy as a Disney princess when the credits roll? Certainly not. I’m still sick(ish), still hungry almost all the time, still most certainly not sleeping through the night. I cannot honestly pinpoint what it is exactly how I feel. But I’m going to York on Saturday, hopefully going to Manchester and Liverpool next weekend, and I know what I’m wearing tomorrow (crossing my fingers at the weather). It’s not home, but there’s no other place I’d rather be.
Aloha and cheers,