Monday, 17 September 2012

Adventure is worthwhile. --Amelia Earhart

Adventure is worthwhile?

I have proof.

Every day, every moment has been an experience.  My journal, camera, facebook page, and mind are overflowing with memories.  Some are small (two British ladies told my friend and I that our accents were lovely!) and some are rather large (I went to the Paralympics!).  I've been here nearly a month, and the priceless memories I've had are already too many to count.  I'll share some of my favorites, showing that adventure is truly worthwhile.

I'll start with my semester home.  I don't mind bragging about my British Castle.  I actually live here, in the grand Harlaxton Manor!  It's still hard to believe.  I walk through history every day and have classes in gorgeous state rooms.  I study in the stunning conservatory and outside, overlooking the manor and beautiful Harlaxton grounds.  Pictures don't even do this building and grounds justice.

My camera is my almost constant companion.  I never know when a photo opportunity may arise!

Although my summer was mostly filled with talk of travel, I am also excited about my classes.  Call me a nerd, but I love learning.  And here, it isn't difficult; in fact, it's impossible not to learn from simple everyday experiences!  I am becoming more familiar with English customs and word differences.  Now I top up my mobile instead of adding minutes to my cell.  I don't jump the queue instead of not cutting in line.  I now respond appropriately when asked "ya alright?" instead of wondering if I look blue.  A new country sure comes with fun challenges!

My first travel experience (except the trip over the ocean!) was to London.  I took a train for the first time, as well as the underground train system in London, the tube.  And I completed one of my London goals:  ride on the top of a red double-decker bus!  The red buses, red telephone booths, and Pret a Manger restaurants were everywhere!  If I try to sum up London in a word, I come up with FABULOUS.  I saw so much but yet so little!  I'm convinced I would have to stay at least a month to see it all.

The first evening there, my friend and I walked the less than 10-minute walk from where we were staying to Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, Big Ben, and Parliament.  I was pleasantly surprised it was all so close together!  Seeing these places at night was simply beautiful.

On Friday, I spent the entire day at the Paralympics!  This was definitely an opportunity of a lifetime.  My friends and I watched sitting volleyball, judo, table tennis, and powerlifting.

 There was high energy and country pride galore in the venue!  I was truly inspired by these athletes.  They completed great feats, and several events left me with my mouth hanging open.

I was fortunate to get to see a medal ceremony following a judo competition (though even after watching a couple of hours throughout the day, I still do not understand the sport!).  Witnessing the athletes receive their medals, watching the flags of their countries lower, and hearing the winning national anthem play was a priceless experience.

The next day, I was able to continue my Paralympics excitement by attending a celebration in Trafalgar Square.  Live bands rotated with live coverage of the events.  It was awesome to be amongst the shouts of "team GB!" and to see so many people gathered together for the great event.

I'm convinced London can never get boring.  We simply walked through the streets, through Piccadilly Circus, on Regent Street, and through central London.  The buildings were just beautiful, and I simply loved the atmosphere.  It was cheap, cultural entertainment!  One of my favorite moments was meeting an artist at the Covent Garden marketplace, buying one of his prints, asking him to sign it and getting a picture with him.  We had a lovely conversation, and this is one of my favorite parts of studying abroad:  connecting with others, bonding over the fact that we are unique individuals and valuing and learning from our differences.  Ah, souls interacting!  I love it.

We ended our visit by seeing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.  Just writing that makes it hit me again.  I saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.  Holy cow.

I'm being silly and holding a Buckingham Palace guard!
Back at the manor, life is anything but ordinary.  Yes, I go to class, but the learning continues in every moment.  I always have something to look forward to.  Later posts will continue the excitement!

Signing out from Harlaxton Manor--

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