Botanic Garden

On Sunday morning, my friend Kristin and I walked back to the village of Oadby and had breakfast at the coffee shop, Costa. We sat at a little table outside, sipped our lattes, and people watched. That evening, the British freshman (“first years” or “freshers” as they call them here) began to arrive. There are several girls in my house from England and one from Ireland that I have met so far. On Sunday night we went to a pub called the Dry Dock. It was really cool because it was actually a boat on land. We met some girls from Denmark there and some more locals.

Early Monday afternoon, we went to visit the Botanic Garden. It was beautiful. There were so many gorgeous plants and sculptures that I could have stayed there for hours. There was even a pond with fountains and giant goldfish swimming to the surface. There were greenhouses within the grounds of the garden that house plants from different climates. There was a Desert House with cactuses, an Alpine House with mountain plants, and a Tropical House with rainforest plants. It is said to be the most diverse garden in the East Midlands of England.

After visiting the garden, I headed to campus to sort out my schedule. Classes don’t officially start until next week but we do have a couple welcome meetings this week. I mentioned in my last post that I have class every day except for Thursday, but I found out that I have a seminar that day. The lectures are not mandatory but the seminars are. I think that the seminar is comparable to the labs we have for some classes back in the states. It’s very strange because I do not take any exams. Instead, for each course I have to write two 1,200 word essays on assigned topics. I have four Psychology courses so that means eight essays. I think that I will like this, as I prefer essays to exams and I have had plenty of practice using APA style. Let’s hope, anyways.

Tomorrow we are heading to Brighton at 4:45 in the morning via train! It’s a beautiful coastal town about three hours from Leicester. Since we have a few more days before class, we thought it would be nice to visit before the weather gets too chilly. Thanks for reading!

Chelsea

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

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Adventure Awaits

On Thursday I completed my visa checkpoint and received my student ID. I register for my modules on Monday and Tuesday. I got my schedule for some of my classes and so far I have class every day except for Thursday. I was hoping for Mondays off so that I could have an extra day when taking weekend trips but that’s alright, I’ll make it work!

On Thursday night some of my friends and I checked out the Leicester nightlife and it was a blast. It seems that all everyone does is dance for hours. There are a lot of school sponsored evening events this next week so that should keep us busy until classes officially start.

On Friday we began to plan our travels. Aside from experiencing college in a different country, this has been what I was most excited for. There are eleven weekends this semester and I hope to spend many of them traveling. So far, the trips that are certain are London, Dublin, and Edinburgh because one of the clubs at the university sponsors them. My boyfriend, Drake, is coming to visit sometime this semester and we are planning to take a trip to Paris as well. I’m also hoping to visit a cousin in Alicante, Spain (I haven’t seen them since I was six years old) and take day trips to Manchester, Liverpool, Stonehenge, and Cambridge. I would also love to see some of the English and Scottish countryside. When my mom, aunt, and cousin come to visit (December 12th to the 21st) we are planning trips to London, Paris, and possibly Italy or Greece. The possibilities that come with the opportunity to study here are endless and it’s unreal that I have this chance.

After discussing our trips, we took an evening walk into the little village of Oadby, which is near our residences. It was a very quaint area and the road that all of the stores are on actually reminded me a lot of Main Street in Park Rapids. There were some fun little crafty stores that I think will be amazing come closer to Christmas.

Today we woke up early and headed back into the downtown Leicester area. This time we did some shopping and I was able to find a charm for my Pandora bracelet that is only sold in the UK. It’s a little double decker bus with the UK flag on top. We also checked out a store called Primark. It reminds me a lot of Forever 21 but British style of course. It was very inexpensive and trendy so that will be a fun place to keep in mind for future events. We also visited a vintage fair that had tons of antique items made in England. I wanted to buy a tea set but the chance of it making it back to the states is pretty slim.

Thanks for reading!

Chelsea

“I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list.”

Susan Sontag

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Downtown Leicester

Today I was able to sleep in and catch up a little bit on the hours I missed during the trip here. When I woke up, a group of friends and I decided to take a trip into the city to check it out. We took the bus, which picks us right up from our residences and takes us to the downtown area. Nearly all of the buses here are double deckers, which is very new to me. The city has everything, including lots of history and culture which we were able to explore a little.

The first place we went was to the King Richard III exhibit. Leicester is where his remains were discovered. We also visited the Leicester Cathedral and it was actually under renovation to display his remains and a monument. It was beautiful. There was a piece of original artwork from Johannes Koelz that was from the 1930s. Koezl and his family were forced to flee Germany in 1937 for “pacifist propaganda” so before escaping, he cut his huge painting into pieces that remained hidden for decades. Leicester Cathedral had several of the pieces displayed, though many remain lost.

I was finally able to get a SIM card for my phone so that I am able to reach friends here and family back home in case of emergency. We also stopped by the market where they were selling fresh fruit and vegetables and other items.

Tonight we are planning on meeting up to visit some of the pubs and then tomorrow I am completing my visa checkpoint so I can become fully registered as a student and sign up for classes. I also included a picture of my house for the semester since I hadn’t taken one when I wrote my last post.

Thanks for reading!

Chelsea

“There’s no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.”

Highgrove

Highgrove

Downtown Leicester

Downtown Leicester

Leicester Cathedral

Leicester Cathedral

Fargo to Chicago to London to Leicester

Well, I made it! Minutes before leaving for the airport, I locked the keys to my luggage in my carry-on. We had to cut a hole in the lining of my bag to reach in and dig out the keys (thank goodness for my mom’s sewing skills), but that was the only hiccup in the entire process.

As London came into view when we dropped back under the clouds, it finally began to sink in that the thing I’ve been planning for nearly a year was here.

I made it through customs easily and found my bus pick-up location, as well as some other students from Leicester. The buses were nearly two hours late, as they ran into some bad traffic in London. The bus ride was very odd for me since we were driving on the opposite side of the road that I’m used to.

It was interesting listening to all of the different students from around the world talk on my bus. It really puts into perspective how much is out there. When we arrived in Leicester, we were given our keys and directed to our residences. I’m living in the Highgrove house in Digby Hall. It was built in the 1920s and I was told that none of the door knobs are the same in the house. It has a lot of character. Campus is beautiful. It’s everything you would imagine England to be. There are trees with draping branches, vines, gardens, and tons of historical architecture.

I’m trying my best to take everything in but I’m definitely feeling the jet lag. I’ll post a picture of my residence soon! Thanks for reading!

Chelsea

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

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The List

When I was 15 years old, I made a list of 50 goals I had for the next 10 years. For several of these years, the list sat folded in the bottom of one of my drawers. I recently stumbled upon it to find that many had been completed, like graduate high school, go to college, swim in the ocean, go scuba diving, see New York City, get a dog, among others. There were also many that had not been completed. I made a mental note not to throw it away. It was fascinating to me that I could cross off many of the goals that I had written over five years prior, but more so that I still dreamed of crossing off many others that remained on the list. When I got accepted to study abroad several months later, I remembered the list and the possibility of fulfilling these dreams began to sink in. I felt a thrill of excitement at the thought of looking at the list years down the road with a checkmark next to the numbers that I had completed, like move far away, travel to Europe, visit family in Spain, shop in Paris, and drink tea in London…

Now with my study abroad experience drawing near, my list is starting to take on a slightly different meaning. I’m realizing that there’s more to it than seeing the sights and being able to say that I’ve done all these amazing things. What’s going to matter is not crossing things off my list, but what it means to do so. I think that what’s going to mean the most is how doing these things makes me grow and change as a person. Experiencing such unfamiliarity is going to teach me a lot about myself and who I’m becoming.

Several months ago when I thought of studying abroad, I felt nothing but excitement. Now that it’s two weeks away, I feel nerves and anxiety about spending three months across the world from my family and friends. Those moments when the realization sinks in that I’m going alone to a place where I will know no one and cannot just take a short drive home, I feel adrenaline and even fear. But I think that’s part of the thrill of it all and what truly makes this a growing experience. There’s nothing better to me than experiencing something I never have before, especially something as extreme as this.

This fall, I’ll be completing my minor in Psychology at the University of Leicester. For those who don’t know, Leicester is a city in the East Midlands of England with a population of about 330,000. It’s just over an hour train ride to London, which is where my plane flies into. I fly out of Fargo, North Dakota to Chicago where I have a short layover, and then to the UK! Packing will be a challenge in itself; three months into a suitcase and a carry-on seems impossible!

I want to thank everyone who has supported me and helped to make this dream a reality. I’m so blessed to have the people I do in my life. Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing this experience with you!

Chelsea

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”

Chasing Dreams

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain