Blues, Bath, and “The Bod”

Whether you’re on a weekend trip or abroad for months, it can be hard to find a “new normal” in a foreign place. Picking out negatives is easy: Schoolwork is hard, traveling is stressful, and being away from those you love can feel lonely. When you’re traveling long-term, it is completely normal to experience ups and downs. No one can be happy for four months straight!

Here’s how to keep the blue days away!

 

1) Let go of expectations and the concept of “normal”

Traveling is full of expectations, goals, and bucket lists. Most of the time, expectations will fall short not because they are too high, but simply because they don’t match up with what the country or place is actually like. In a foreign country, sometimes nothing will feel “normal” and nothing will go as expected and that is okay! Stepping outside our our comfort zone is what helps us grow. Saying yes to things without expectations and appreciating what is different can be so fun! Similarly, if you constantly are comparing your experience to someone else’s, you will be disappointed every time. This is one I really struggle with! FOMO is real!

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One thing that I always find interesting is seeing what different grocery stores are like! Here is me freaking out because in Switzerland, you carry around this mini scanner as you shop for your groceries and scan each one before you drop it into your bag. Every 10th person or so gets “checked” to keep people honest. When you’re done shopping, you just scan your card and walk out!

2) Combat negativity with positives

Since I tend to gravitate towards time alone, I have made it a personal goal to branch out at least once a week to someone and make plans. This gives me something to look forward to each week and allows me to meet new people. Choosing positive people to spend time with is also extremely important. This week, I attended a cocktail making event at the Slug and Lettuce, made plans to get dinner with one of my Swiss friends, and had a delicious wine and cheese night at 1855 wine bar in Oxford.

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3) Explore your own city

Between a heavy workload and various weekend travel plans, it is easy to overlook the awesome city that you’re actually calling home! This Friday, I had an awesome opportunity to visit Oxford’s famous Bodleian library (affectionately known as “the Bod” with a small crew of other Elon kids and Professor Kevin Boyle. If you are in Oxford (and especially if you are a Harry Potter fan), please do this!! An hour tour only costs 8 pounds. You’ll get to see the “heart” of Oxford University, one of the best gothic ceilings, and the Bodleian library itself which opened originally in 1602 and boasts an absolutely incredible 12 million books, most of which are housed underground.

Arguably best of all, you will walk through several rooms featured in the Harry Potter films, including the “Restricted Section”!!! I’m still not over it. Seriously, please visit.

Unfortunately, pictures in the library are not allowed but I did snap a few of the lecture hall and other downstairs rooms.

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Oxford is so beautiful!

4) Always say yes to free things

I’ll thank my Dad for teaching me this valuable life lesson. Say yes to free things! This Saturday, the lovely St. Clare’s hosted a free day trip to Bath. While we are still responsible for paying for our own activities, the transportation is free and you bet your bottom dollar I am not saying no to that offer.

We only spent a short time in Bath but I loved the historical feel of the city! I toured the Roman Baths, Jane Austen Centre, and saw the Circus and the Royal Crescent – two historic sites featuring expensive flats that are incredible works of architecture -#homegoals for sure.

For lunch, we ate at the Pump Room right next to the baths entrance. This place was incredibly classy (an orchestra played as we ate) and the food was delicious. I tried crab risotto and creamy potatoes. I would love to spend more time exploring this city!

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Keep up with my adventures as I head out to Venice, Italy in just 5 days!

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Pre-Abroad Feels

My plans –> Oxford, England

For those of you who haven’t heard, in exactly one month and two days I will be headed abroad to Oxford, England! My semester in Oxford at St. Clare’s International runs from January 8th – May 6th with a couple breaks in-between. I will be flying out of DFW on January 7th and returning on May 18th after a visit from my mom! While at St. Clare’s, I will be taking my usual English and Education classes, completing an internship in a local school, and spending my free time immersing myself in English culture and traveling as much as possible.

I cannot believe that my lifelong dream of traveling Europe will actually be set in motion in such a short time! Meanwhile, I have been spending my time procrastinating my finals work by spending my time researching trips.

 

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Travel Plans

As of now, I have a one trip in the works and a couple others on the list. We have two weeks off in the middle of April for Spring Break during which I plan to backpack with a couple friends through Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Hamburg, and Amsterdam over the course of 17 nights.

Several friends and family members have also been kind enough to plan trips with me! My boyfriend, Harrison, will be visiting me during his March Spring Break and my good friends Morgan and Ally are coming the week after! Additionally, extended family in Switzerland have offered to host me for a long weekend – an opportunity I am all too excited to take advantage of. At the end of my semester, my mom and grandparents are visiting and we will be exploring London, Paris, and the surrounding areas.

If you have any connections abroad or will be in Europe from January-May please let me know! I would love to make plans with you.

 

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Visa Applications & Internships

I had absolutely no idea that my Visa application would be such a hassle! This semester has been filled with Study Abroad meetings and numerous hours dedicated to filling out my Visa, going to fingerprint appointments, and getting everything in order. I will be on a Tier 4 Student Visa which allows me to work/intern.

Luckily, Teaching Fellows has hooked us up with awesome teaching internships when I am abroad where I will be working with 15-16 year old second language students at Cherwell Secondary School in Oxford! One day a week we will be spending a full day working in the school. Additionally, I will be enrolled in a comparative education course as part of my studies and am really looking forward to studying a new culture while living there.

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Nerves

Despite being ridiculously pumped to go abroad, I’ll admit that I am a bit nervous too! I don’t think that it has really set in that I will be away from America for a full 4.5 months! Mainly, I am worried that the time difference will create a barrier between those who I have relationships with at home and myself. I know that balancing will be necessary so that I do not spend too much time communicating with those back home to the point of missing out on new things! Furthermore, I really want to make friends with some of the international students which I know will require extra effort since they may not be in my classes. Like any semester, being abroad is full of ups and downs that I must prepare for.

 

Overall, I am extraordinarily excited to embark on this journey! Please feel free to follow this blog to keep up with what I am doing abroad and here at Elon! Again, if you have any advice or insight on what places I must visit, I would love to hear it.

 

Thank you to my family for making this all possible!

Much love,

Courtney

 

 

 

Reflections Study Abroad 2016 Trips