Three weeks ago, I left for Liverpool. It has really been a whirlwind three weeks. I’ve had some definite ups and downs, and although I’ve only been here for a short time, it feels as though I’ve been here for much longer.
The flight from Minneapolis to Paris ran pretty much as smoothly as an 8 hour flight could be. Nothing was delayed, they played some awesome movies (something borrowed, Water for Elephants, and the Kings Speech), and I even managed to get a bit of sleep. Even though I had gotten some sleep, I was exhausted when I got to Paris at 7:15 am Paris time. Then, things started to fall apart. The flight from Paris to Manchester was delayed a good two hours, the plane was very sketchy and small, at this point I had been awake for nearly 24 hours, and to top it all off, they lost my luggage (and subsequently my entire life minus the little bit of stuff that was in my carry on). Needless to say, when I finally arrived at Liverpool Hope University, I was not a happy camper. Iskyped with my friend Courtney when I got to my room, and I told her, “I want to cry, but I can’t because I don’t have any make up to fix my face. I want to shower, but I can’t because I don’t have a towel. I want to sleep, but I can’t because I don’t have sheets.” So the first night, I ended up sleeping with my travel blanket and pillow. Not very fun. Fortunately, my luggage arrived the next day. I can’t tell you how good it felt to be able to take a shower!
(Holly and I before heading to the airport)
The First Week
Week one, was a lot of exploring Liverpool and getting ourbearings. The other Concorida girls and I took a few trips to Tesco(which is like Walmart, but smaller), and we were able to get the essentials: food, bedding, toiletries. That week, we also took a few trips to the city center and walked around, went shopping, stopped at Albert Dock (absolutely beautiful!), and went to the Beatles Museum. There are a lot of stores in the city center and my new favorite place is Primark. Everything there is super cheep, and pretty cute! My friends and I noticed that British girls do not wear sweats. What we would consider to be a cute outfit in America (Jeans, cardigan, cute top, scarf) is just a causal outfit to them! Also, a lot of the women here wear dresses on a daily basis and high heels are a staple in their wardrobes. We were baffled at how some women wear sky high heels all day, as if it were no big deal! So, our trip to Primark was about stocking up on cheep things that are more than just “casual.” With our new clothes, Jamie and I headed out to Birmingham for a night that weekend!
(Mel, Dani, and I with our enormous Primark bags)
Hmm, what can I say about Birmingham… It was overall, not terribly exciting. It was a lot of the same things to do as in Liverpool. However, I do not blame Birmingham for the lack luster trip, I blame the lack of planing. When we got to Birmingham, we didn’t know that our hotel would be out of the city center. Then came the challenge of, how do we get into the city center? Taxis were expensive. So, the first night, Jamie and I didn’t really do much. We ate dinner at a really good Mexican restaurant, and then went back to the hotel and watched a movie and x-factor. I know, it sounds lame that we weren’t out exploring the town that night, but it just felt so good to sit and watch TV after a week of non stop exploring. I don’t think either Jamie or I regretted our decision to stay in! Saturday, we were more determined to find something to do! We really want to go to Cadbury (chocolate) word, but sadly transportation was an issue! So, we ended up going to the city center. There, we went to the Birmingham museum and art gallery. It was awesome for two reasons. One, it has HUGE! Two, it was FREE! Then after that, we went shopping in Birmingham’s famous Bull Ring. This place was appropriately named, it was crazy! There were so many people, and so many stores! To finish off the day, we saw St. Martin’s church and then ate dinner and headed back to Liverpool.
I think the biggest lesson that I learned from the trip to Birmingham was that you need to plan. I’m all for spontaneity, but transportation and store hours often times do not run in accordance with a the brain of a college student! My advice? Plan for spontaneity. It sounds like an oxymoron, but if you are looking to see any tourist sights, you need to plan ahead of time. That way, you don’t miss out. Then, when you have down time, leave it open to random discoveries.
(Birmingham museum and Art gallery)
Week two started off very stressful! I found out that half of the classes I was planing on taking over here are not being taught this semester (even though the catalog said they were). Mind you, this discovery came just two days before classes started! Essentially, I had to rework my entire plan and look at my degree audit from Concordia. I ended up finding three classes to take: environmental resources, animation, and marketing. So far, I am really liking my environmental studies and animation classes. Marketing is interesting and I like it, but I struggle with it because it doesn’t count towards anything for my degree. It is essentially empty credits. Other than the classes issue, my week wasn’t too exciting. Although, I went to the Cavern club, which was made famous by the Beatles. It was so cool! Great place! Other than that,it was a week of sitting and watching movies with the Concorida girls. Which is a direct result of the social culture at British uni.
(Katie, Jamie, and I in front of the stage the Beatles played on at the Cavern Club!)
That is all. they. do. It may sound a bit severe, but it is for the most part true. We have been told by British students here that either you don’t drink, or you get trashed. Coming from Concorida, we were in shock when we saw people poppin’ bottles at school functions. Unfortunately, drinking just happens to be a HUGE part of the culture here and partying and excessive drinking are normal. Funny thing is that when I’ve talked about it with British students, they seem to have this vision that Americans party just as much or more than they do. Maybe its just my Concorida bubble view, but I don’t think I ‘ve known anyone that drinks ad much as they do. In the states, you would probably be considered analcoholic if you went out and got smashed every night of the week, but that is not the view here. I’m trying to remain open minded, but that doesn’t mean that I feel the need to get drunk, ever. That is something that I’ve decided that I never wanted to do. I don’t mind a drink in a pub, hanging out and chatting with friends, I’m totally down for that, but that is normally reserved for old people here. I feel as though it should be a sign for people when they hand out free samples of a lip gloss that comes with complimentary test strips for date rape drugs that may be in your drank at freshers fair (like cobber expo). I’ll stop my rant now, my point is that it is hard to make friends when they live a completely different lifestyle.
(Our one drink at a pub. Yes we were the only ones under 30 there. Shocking? Not at all)
The turning point? So far, this week has been really uplifting! Sunday, Kristen, Mel, Katie and I went to a student service at Frontine church here in Liverpool. It felt really good to worship and talk about God. Its very draining to be in an environment that is not conducive to spiritual growth. I think that all of us felt the same way. It was so refreshing to be with like minded people. The message was really good too, it was very to the point, which I enjoyed. Often times, I feel as though churches tip toe around controversial issues, such as purity (which was the subject onSunday), it was good to have someone lay it down point blank. Then on Monday night, we went to the first Christians Union meeting here on campus. Its a small group, but I’m glad it exists. Again, very uplifting and reassuring. I have a place here.
So, now its Wednesday, and I have more good news! I finally got my art courses figured out! I am now taking a printed textiles course along with the animation course. Should be good! Animation is a fun class, but man is it tedious! I mingled with the native folk in my animation class today, they were really nice! We played that game where you put a famous person on a post it note and then stick it on someone’s forehead and then they have to guess who they are. I didn’t know who most of the people were. Tom the cat, Katie Price? Beats me! Luckily, I was Indiana Jones, so that wasn’t bad! I’m also really excited because I leave for Edinburgh, Scotland tomorrow!! I can’t wait!
(The cornerstone building, where my textiles class will be. You have no idea how hard it was to get LHU to understand that at home fine art and design can be combined into one degree. Here fine art does not include design, which made for one every frustrated Graphic Design major from Concordia)
More to come later, I’ll try to be more on top of blogging. Hopefully I won’t have to posts like novels anymore. In closing, here are a few lessons I’ve learned in the past few weeks.
1) When in England, never refer to jeans as pants. They are trousers, what you wear under them are pants.
2) Its ok to embrace being American. Whether you are wearing sweat pants, or a fancy dress. They will know when you open your mouth. (I’m not advising this for travel or if you are living in a nonAmerica friendly country)
3) Thank God for the bad things in life. It sounds weird, but thankfulness makes complaints go by the wayside.
4) Most importantly, its ok to be different. Even if that means being part of the less than 1% of Christian students in Liverpool. Being different makes you stand out, which then gives you the opportunity to express yourself wholeheartedly. It is much harder to show your individual views and thoughts when you are part of a large group.
(At Albert Dock, most famous port in Liverpool)
That’s all for now!
Love from Liverpool,