Well, its been just over a month since I returned from the most incredible three months of life to date. In my French class today, my professor was talking about writing as a cathartic experience. Although I agree with the fact that writing / journaling as a sort of therapy, I have to admit, I’m not the best at keeping up with it. I do have my time where I just feel compelled to write it out. As per usual with me, this feeling was evoked by a powerful song that I’ve come to love since hearing it at my nieces colorguard competition this weekend. Its called “Turn to Stone” by Ingrid Michaelson. The few lines that I find most striking go like this, “Lets go to bed with clearer heads/and hearts to big to fit our beds/and maybe we won’t feel so alone” I am enjoying being back at home, however, I feel this itching desire in my heart that is burning to explore the world further. Its no secret to me that travel and discovering and learning about new cultures is one of my biggest dreams. I just had no idea how it would manifest throughout my life. Although my time in the UK, was difficult at times, I found myself beaming with the reality of accomplishing one of my lifelong dreams. Its a feeling that I’ll never forget, and one that i’ll see in the future.
While I was in Liverpool, I decided to not continue on to study in Tours, France. I do not regret that decision in the least because it was best to come back home in order to finish my degree and also for my finances. One thing that was on my mind when I was on my way home and since I have been home, is the new dream that my brain is cooking up and that God is instilling in my heart. I know I talked about dreams and aspirations in previous posts. However, maybe I’m not finished with my traveling dreams. I find myself thinking about how full my heart felt while I was traveling. Every new place was an open window to the soul of the world. Each place has a unique view to life that can only be experienced in its natural setting. The collective views come together to form a very diverse world that cannot truly know until they experience each one. I’m not saying that I’m going to try to reach to the ends of the earth, but I’d like to experience as much as I am able to. In my french class, we’ve talked about how one does not truly know their own culture until they’ve experience one that’s different. I completely agree with this statement and I can vouch for the validity of it. There are things that I’ve discovered about who I am and where I come from that I would have never known had I not seen something different. Everything is normal until something different comes along.
I suppose I wanted to write tonight because I’m already tired and afraid of feeling comfortable in this place. I believe that comfort can be dangerous because it is not conducive to growth or change. I don’t want to become complacent. As a Christian, I strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus did not lead a comfortable life on earth, his journey was painful and he suffered. But he instilled change in the lives of many people, myself included. I’m not saying that I want a life filled with pain and suffering. Jesus’ death on the cross guaranteed a better life for me and everyone else. I just know that the path that God chooses for each one of us is not easy. However, difficulties are driving forces that show just how dependent I am to God. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13), but don’t have a chance without Him.
For now, at least the next year and a half, I’ll be in school at the same place I’ve been. I’m trying not to let myself be comfortable here. I know that if I allow myself to do that, I’ll have a hard time leaving after I graduate. Dreams will be pushed aside and sorrow and regret will take their place. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I’m really hoping that traveling is apart of it! At the top of my current travel bucket list, is traveling the U.S. I realized that I’ve seen more of the UK that I have of the country I have lived in all my life. There are so many different cultures and stories with in this country, I’d like to explore them before I venture overseas again. Thats all for now!
Love from Minnesota,
Lets go to bed with clearer heads/and hearts to big to fit our beds/and maybe we won’t feel so alone
-Turn to Stone by Ingrid Michaelson
This day has been so surreal. I can’t even begin to explain the mix of emotions that are racing through my veins right now. I am so excited to leave for my adventure tomorrow and I’m nervous that my bags will be over weight and ryanair is going to be a nightmare. I’m really sad to be leaving Liverpool. Although I had my ups and downs here, I really do enjoy this city and this country. When you make a place home, its hard to leave. I am happy to be going home soon, but at the same time, I feel that my time here was so short! So, to sum up the best and the worst of this experience, I’ve made a list of what I am going to miss and not miss about Liverpool.
What I am going to dearly miss about Liverpool, England:
Things I think that I am looking forward to at home:
So, as I set of on my adventure with Erin and Brenda, I plan on soaking it all up. These are my last two weeks in the the UK, and its going to be great!! Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, and Paris here we come!!! I am excited beyond belief! See everyone at home soon! I didn’t think that I would be saying that at this point, but I am really glad that I can!
Love for Liverpool (for the last time),
Hello again! Its been quite sometime since I’ve written a post. In the past week, it has become blatantly obvious to me that I’m not the kind of person who likes to record their thought process. I think its because I’m more of an internal processor. I think things through in detail before the pen even hits the paper. By that point, the journaling process is pointless because I can sum up my thoughts in one sentence. And let’s be honest, who wants to read a journal entry that is only comprised of one sentence? This sometimes puts me in between a rock and a hard place while doing school work. This week I was faced with a midway evaluation of my work in textiles class. I had a bit of a freakout when I realized that I hadn’t even started my contextual journal. Essentially, my contextual journal is a record of anything and everything that inspires my creative thinking/design work. It was honestly a bit frustrating to have to sit and journal about inspiration. Normally, as my professor is explaining a project, I’m sort of half listening / half already thinking of an idea for said project. By the time it even gets to the sketching phase, I’ve been through about a million ideas in my head and know exactly what I want to do. To have to work backwards is just a nuisance for me. I know that these process are a valid part of learning, but its something I’m looking forward to be done with when I graduate!
To my surprise, when I got to textiles class on thursday morning, I learned that the British method teaching art/design is very different from the American method. The other American students in my class and I were talking about how we were a little confused as to what exactly were were doing/creating in this class. When we talked to one of the professors, she explained to us that that it is the process of creating that is more important and highly valued here, rather than the outcome/end result (like at home). Suddenly, it clicked and I realized that I didn’t need to worry about what I am going to end up with. It is kind of a freeing feeling to just be able to experiment and try out different mediums and play around with the millions of thoughts that I have. Since I will be graded on everything that I have done, even the smallest drawings, I don’t have to worry about creating a perfect piece. I just get to create and learn more about my design style! Its going to be a bit of a stretch though, I am going to have to slow my thought process down so that I can play with ideas. Thursday, I got to try screen printing out, which was Awesome! I kind of wish my classes at Concordia were more like this!
From the great class that I had on Thursday, the rest of the day and subsequently my entire weekend was just great! Every year, there is a fundraiser here in the UK called Children In Need. It goes on for the entire weekend, but on Thursday night, they put on a huge concert which is streamed live via BBC One’s webpage. I got to see some of my favorite bands and artists, like Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Michael Buble! I also saw some bands that I had never heard of, but are quickly becoming favorites as well! The main two are Elbow and Jamie Cullum. Then to top the night off, I went and saw the new Twilight movie at midnight! I’m not really a huge twilight fan because I’ve never read the books (nor do I ever plan to), but it was still fun to go see a movie at midnight, in a foreign country, with good friends!
That brings me to this weekend. Friday was pretty warm here in Liverpool. I walked down to Tesco to buy some much needed groceries. It felt good to finally have food back on my empty shelves! Saturday was just an all around good day! Some friends and I headed down to Albert Dock to go to the Tate Modern Liverpool. Its a modern art museum, which I was really excited to go to because modern art is my favorite! We went to the Alice in Wonderland exhibit that they are showing right now. It was really interesting. They had some of the original transcripts and illustrations of the Alice books. They also had photographs of the real life Alice. After that exhibition, we walked through the rest of the museum. I got to see a few pieces by Dali, my favorite is Lobster Telephone. They also had one of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans on display. It was black bean, in case you were wondering!
After the museum, we had dinner in the city center and then headed back to campus. The rest of the night, my friends and I made cupcakes, and just hung out! It was just a really great day!
I am really enjoying my time here, but I know that I don’t have much time left here! Its starting to get to the point where I have begun thinking that I don’t want to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to come home, but there are just so many great things here. I’m trying not to think about my time here coming to an end. Instead, I am trying to focus my thought on thankfulness. I thank God for blessing me with this experience! It thank Him for the good, the great, the bad, and the terrible. Everyday is a new experience. Nothing here is comfortable, everything is new and therefore exciting and I’ll admit, a little bit scary. Since nothing in the world is definitively comfortable, I learned very quickly that the only comfort in life is God. He is there through everything. One of the most important things that I have learned here is to depend on God at every moment and in every situation. At home, it is so easy to run to the people and the things that you find comfort in. But when you’re in a foreign country without both of those things,you are forced to rely solely on God. This is a lesson that I will have to readily remind myself of when I return home. God will always be the first place I turn to when I’m sad, and when I am happy. It sounds like a simple concept, but it can really be a challenge. A worldly dependence may provide you with instant gratification, but a Godly dependence will provide you with eternal gratification.
Love from Liverpool,
Lobster Telephone, Salvador Dali, 1936
So, I’m sure that if you’re reading this post you probably know that I am no long heading to Tours next semester. After a very long and drawn out process of trying to get my visa, I was finally unable to obtain my visa. I don’t really want to rehash the whole thing because its a really long and complicated story. Moral of the story, don’t try to go to France after going to England for 3 months and don’t trust Concordia Global Education.
Needless to say, its been a hard week. I am really disapointed that things didn’t work out for France, but at the same time I know that this is God’s way of saying that I am needed at home and not in France.
At church tonight, the message really caught my attention and my France sittuation clicked even more for me. The message was about dreams, passions, and callings. As you will recall in my first post, I originally thought that I was being called to go to France. The problem is that it wasn’t my dream. It was never my dream to go back to France, I signed up to go to Tours becuase the opportunity presented itself and I knew that it would improve my french. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been a great experience and I would have learned a lot. However, the speaker tonight shared this eye-opening thought about dreams. He said, “If you are fufilling your dream, you are fufilling someone’s need and vise versa.” Such a profound statement that has a whole lot of truth to it. For example, if your dream is to be a mentor to youth and you are not fulfilling that dream, the children still need a mentor. Hense, you are not giving them thier need.
I can be thankful that God has closed the door to Tours for me becuase He essentially stoped me from wasting my time. Now I have time to start working twords a new dream, instead of getting side-tracked. Essentially, He’s revealing part of his plan to me and France is not part of that plan. Since, I just achieved one dream of going to England. I get to think of a new one! How exciting is that? I’m a daydreamer by nature, so I love coming up with new dreams. I just have to make sure that whatever my next big dream is, is rooted in God. Only then, will that dream be build on a foundation of rock and not sand. In other words, if my dream in aimed with Him in mind, it is sure to stand the test of time.
“Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Love from Liverpool,
I don’t know what it is about Coldplay, but their music always manages to provoke certain emotions in my head and heart. Maybe its just the fact that they come out with a new album at the coming-of-age points in my life, but I won’t discredit their ability to write and perform a great tune! I know it may still be cliché to even like Coldplay, you know after the whole 40-year-old virgin bit, but they did just post on twitter a few days ago that their new album Mylo Zyloto hit #1 on the itunes chart in every single country that has an itunes chart (That’s 35 countries!) And, yes, I follow them on twitter.
Anyways, reining my Coldplay advertisement back to my life in England…I am (dare I say it) really beginning to enjoy living here! Don’t get me wrong, I still have my “I hate England” days, but recently, I find the positives outweighing the negatives. I like that they have water boiling kettles in every kitchen, I like that everywhere I go I see at least one cute thing (an old house, a little British child, a cobblestone street, etc.). I enjoy their public transportation system, the ease of hopping on and off a bus, or calling a taxi that texts you when it arrives, or even getting a little exercise (maybe a lot) by simply walking to where I need to go! I also really enjoy the fact that they drive fast here, I would love to drive here. In fact, that’s going on my bucket list (don’t worry dad, it probably won’t happen).
With the looming possibility of not going to France next semester, I am starting to realize that I may only be abroad for another month and a half! With that in mind, I’ve been growing more and more aware of the fact that I am, in the very moment, living out one of my dreams. A pretty big dream! It just brings me back to thankfulness. As I won’t be celebrating thanksgiving this year, I thought it might be good to sneak this in my post! I am truly grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. Not many get the chance to experience what I am now. I have to thank the Lord what he has blessed me with. Not only has He blessed me with the opportunity, but also family and friends who have supported me throughout this while process. I am a witness that God truly does grant the deepest desires of your heart. I know that it is an act of God that I am able to be here right now, because so many things in my life have lead me to this point. Every after-school session of Admission Possible (College Possible now?), every scholarship essay that I wrote, the decision to go to Concordia, and many more little aspects of my life that never felt like they would add up to anything, have led me here. And I know that this is only the beginning! I hope that everyone gets the chance to live out at least one of their dreams, it is one of the most wonderful feelings. Its like non other, and no matter how unorganized things in the UK are, I can’t shake this feeling.
And how does this relate to Coldplay? Well, for me music has always been a trigger. Whether a song reminds me of a funny inside joke, or stirs ups, as Oprah would say, an “ah-ha” moment, I have always felt a connection with music. Maybe that’s why I’m attracted to musicians. lol (Side note, listen to Ed Sheeran. He’s a British musician and a red head. Honestly, there is no better combination!) Anyways, Coldplay always seems to feed me “Ah-ha” moments. So, it is no coincidence that I write a blog entitled “Livin’ the Dream” the same day I purchase Coldplay’s new album.
If you are still reading my tangents at this point, and have not ran and hid under the sofa from all the Coldplay references. Congratulations, you learned a little bit about Jenée today, and my hope is that my story helps you learn a little bit about yourself. But who am I kidding, I should really be thanking all those who read this, because if you made it through, you must really care about me! Thanks! :)
Love from Liverpool,
Last weekend, I went to Edinburgh, Scotland for the weekend. To sum it up, Scotland is simply AMAZING! The city of Edinburgh is gorgeous. From the lush green hills, to Edinburgh castle (which makes you feel like you just stepped into a Disney movie), there was never a bad view.
We saw a lot of really cool things in Scotland, but i’ll spare you the mundane details (even though I thought that they were pretty awesome as well). Highlights of the trip were as follows:
1. Arthur’s Seat
This is an old inactive volcano in the center of Edinburgh. After many breaks and a few points where we almost backed out, we managed to climb all the way to the top! Even though my legs were very sore the next day, it was worth going all the way to the top! The view of the city was absolutely one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. At that moment, I had to stop and thank God for His wonderful creation and even more for bringing me to it and allowing me to experience it!
2. Edinburgh Castle
On top of a hill, visible to virtually all of Edinburgh, sits Edinburgh Castle. Although it is fairly small for a castle, it is a very important piece of Scottish history. I really enjoyed taking a tour of the castle and learning about the history. I never really learned anything about Scotland in school, so it was interesting to learn all about it on the tour!
3. The Elephant House
A small coffee shop in the heart of Edinburgh, appropriately coined “the birthplace of Harry Potter.” This is where JK Rowling spent her days writing Harry Potter; How cool is that? They even had pictures of her writing hanging up on the walls in the shop!
4. The Scottish Whisky Experience
I’m no whisky connoisseur, but I still enjoyed this part of the trip. I learned how whisky is made, saw the largest collection of whisky in the world, and yes, even tried a bit of whisky. I’ll admit, I only had a sip of the bit they gave us. Needless to say, I didn’t really enjoy the burning sensation and horrid taste, but I felt it necessary to at least give it a try.
Overall, I really enjoyed Scotland! As we left Edinburgh last Sunday, I was overcome by the itching feeling of not wanting to leave this place. As I meddled through my thoughts of the weekend, I made a list of what exactly it was about this place that made me feel so at home.
Reasons why I love Scotland:
1. The People
The people in Edinburgh were so friendly. I don’t think I met one Scottish person the entire time that was not friendly towards me or my fellow travelers.
2. Scottish Pride
I felt a great since of pride that the people had for their country in Scotland. They legitimately loved where they come from and were proud of what they had to offer and the traditions they uphold.
I saw so many dogs over the weekend, I was about to explode. I love dogs and it was great to see so many people walking their dogs. We even got to pet a few! I can’t help but associate the large amount of pets with the loving and kind personalities of the Scottish people. It just makes sense to me!
4. The view
Last but not least, the view. As I’ve mentioned before, the view in Scotland was beautiful! I don’t think I need to say more!
I would have never expected to like Edinburgh as much as I did. It is now on my bucket list as a place that I have to go back to at some point! But until then, Liverpool will do!
Love from Liverpool,
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,