“Let It Be”

Well it’s done folks. I have been home for 16 days. I can’t believe my trip is complete. It feels like just yesterday I decided to go to London in the first place and now it’s gone. In the word’s of JR Tolken and Bilbo Baggins, I’ve been there and back again. It all feels like a dream.

I’ve had a surprisingly easy time adjusting to home. It all seems right and normal. I attribute my adjustment to my trip in Jamaica. I had an extra transition step that helped me adjust to leaving London as well as get over my jet lag before returning stateside. What I am having problems with is missing London. I had such a wonderful experience. I escaped the pressures and stresses of home and I miss the carefree lifestyle I developed in London. Not to say my study abroad experience didn’t come with it’s own problems, but sitting at home bored and putting off tedious paperwork and applications makes me truly miss the vibrant culture of London. Not to mention the irony of weather. London just experienced the longest and coldest winter in over 40 years, of course when I decide to go. I was bragging to everyone I met just how wonderful SC weather is. Maybe that’s what I get for boasting. It has been non-stop rain and 50 degree weather since I have returned. Whoever thought this was a funny joke is seriously mistaken.

Regardless, I am yet again torn between 2 conflicting feelings. My love of returning to the comforts of home and my longing to return to the life in London I fell head-over-heels for. I find myself looking through old pictures, websites, and any media that reminds me of London. Whenever anyone mentions anything, and I mean ANYTHING that has to do with the UK, England, or more importantly London I drop everything and jump on the opportunity to communicate my infatuation with London.

Despite all of this, I can honestly say my study abroad experience was hands down the most experience of my life. I learned so much about the world, my future career, and most importantly myself. A friend of mine asked me if I noticed that everyone has stayed the same and I changed and my response was yes but not in the negative way she was expecting I would answer. I would never want my family, friends, and community to change. It’s why I have them in my life, but I felt so out of place and needed something as drastic as living 3 months in another country to remind me of my purpose in life. I needed a change and I got it. I have changed for the better and I have never been prouder. I have a lot coming up in the next year and I pray that my confidence and experiences abroad will help me conquer and succeed.

A big thank you to the people who made this experience possible: my Mom and Dad who gave me the world, my family who supported me, Wofford Study Abroad for helping me decide where to go and helping all of us students prepare, and for the amazing people that I met that made my time in London the most rewarding experience of my life.

I hope some day I will return to my second home, but until then I will just have to let it be…

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“Hello Goodbye”

So I was forced to leave home. No, I am actually not referring to 3 months ago when I left my southern comfort zone. I mean my new home in London. It’s like Phillip Phillips said “You’re gonna make this place your home”. It’s funny really. I watched the London Summer Olympics and heard that song for the US Women’s Gymnastics team. I had no idea that one day I too would be making London my home. It was really hard to leave. I won’t even get into the stresses of packing and getting everything ready to leave, but it really was a nightmare.

My last few days were jam packed. Monday I spent most of the day preparing for my final paper and presentation, but I took a break to Westminster Abbey for evensong. Maybe I am biased, but the choir from Oxford Queen’s College came for Monday’s Evensong. It sounded so beautiful and I was so happy I finally made it for an evensong. Not to mention how happy I was to take a study break. Plus, it happened to be the day the great Margaret Thatcher passed away. They had a brief prayer in her memory which I was extremely honored to have witnessed. Most of the flags around Parliament Square and Westminster were flown at half mast.

Flags flown at Half Mast for Margaret Thatcher

On Tuesday after a full day of classes I finally went and rode the London Eye. It was a surreal experience feeling like I was on top of the world. I never wanted to come down. My home was spread out before me and I knew once I came down it would be time to leave it. London tip: If you want to go on the London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel) go at the beginning of your time in London or at the end. You’ll appreciate it more then. The night followed with a great time with some great people I met in London. These people made London the most amazing experience of my life and I am so grateful they were apart of it.

Wednesday was full of packing. It was so hard to leave. And yes, I cried. A lot. Wouldn’t you if you were leaving home? But I traveled to Jamaica for 24 hours. I left Nido at 3 am and got to Kingston at 8:30 pm – 2:30 am London time. I was exhausted, but being in Jamaica has made all of the difference.

It is nice being back on a central time zone. While I am normally Eastern time, being back here is really helping me get over jet lag before I get home. But the most exciting part is the sun! I seriously have not been warm since I left and now we can’t get away from it.

Friday we toured UWI, the University of the West Indies where we will be taking class on Monday and had dinner at Usaine Bolt’s restaurant Track and Records. A few of the nursing students from UWI joined us for dinner. It was really interesting to talk to locals who taught us a few words in the native dialect. In case you were wondering how to greet someone in Jamaica, Wagwan means hello. Today we toured Kingston stopping at their Hero Park and Emancipation Park. After, we traveled to Port Royal where we caught a small boat out to Lime Cay. It was absolutely beautiful. Most people forget about the mountains in Jamaica, but we were lying on the beach with the beautiful blue mountains in the distance. We could not be more blessed.

Lime Cay in Kingston, Jamaica

Tomorrow is a full day of the beach before we begin our actual course work. Unfortunately we are not only here for play. Monday we will be taking classes at UWI, followed by full days in the health care clinics Tuesday through Thursday. Friday we will be viewing a local NGO and debriefing before we depart from Kingston on Saturday. I am going to be home a week from today! I’m loving my time, especially in the sun of Jamaica, but it will be so nice to come home.

So as hard as it was to leave London, it was easier knowing Jamaica was waiting for me on the other side. I’m excited to see what the Caribbean has in store for us. Hello Jamaica, Goodbye London.

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“Come Together, 8 Days a Week”

It’s official. I only have 2 weeks until I am stateside. You know what’s even scarier? I leave London in 4 days! It all became real for me over Easter and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am running around frantically trying to complete my bucket list. Surprisingly I have gotten a lot done.

On Easter we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral for Easter Service. First of all, St. Paul’s is a STUNNING Cathedral and the choir sounded as close to angels as I think we can have on Earth. It has been a while since I’ve been to church and it felt great to get back, especially for Easter. After that we went to watch the Cambridge vs Oxford boat races in London. Of course my “Alma Mater” won! GO OXFORD! Taking one course at Oxford counts as an Alma Mater, right? This was my first adventure that made me realize I have so much of London I still have to see before I leave.

St. Paul’s Cathedral for Easter Service

Oxford Cambridge Boat Races!

A few days later I went to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. I had to get the tourist shots somewhere right?

Tower Bridge!

BREAKING NEWS EVERYONE. I have successfully navigated the Bus and walking around London. One of my goals was to master all forms of transportation. Someone told me that a true local knows how to use the bus system. And would you look at that, this small town girl got her way around the city. Trying to represent for the South :) I know it’s a little late but hey, better late than never right? People are even asking me for directions and advice on the tube. I feel like such a local! Also, I would also like to take this time for a confession. I am Elora and I am obsessed with One Direction. I mean how could you not. They are so cool and British. Epitome of British Pop Culture. They make me happy. “Smile with eyes, Smile with face, Even smile with Liver” -Eat, Pray, Love

My adventures continue. I went to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Oh Hey Queeny! But I have seen the changing of the guards in Athens, Greece. That was a cool experience, but they change every hour. I see why they don’t here in London. It took an hour! But they played Indiana Jones and Star Wars so I can’t really complain. Life made.

Changing of the Guards! Shout out to Queen Elizabeth!

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I finally went to a Football Match! CHELSEA vs Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. It was so amazing. We were in the corner second row off the field! We seriously could not have been any closer. The score was 2-1 Chelsea and every score was scored on our end of the field. Which means we got to see all of the excitement. I loved every minute of the game, especially since we won!

FRANK LAMPARD #8

My next places to hit are the London Eye, Big Ben, and Parliament. I even hope to see Macbeth at some point too. Needless to say I have a pretty busy schedule. London is such a wonderful city and I am so lucky to have the opportunity not only to visit but to live here. Top 3 favorite places. Right behind Dittmargaritaville (my home) and good ol’ Wofford College. I wish I could have more time. Not enough hours in a day or days in a week. It’s like we need 8 days a week! But I am certainly ready to get back to warmer weather. I don’t think I could ever get used to how cold and dark London is. The one draw back I would say. Regardless, everything seems to come together at the very end!

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“She’s Leaving Home”

Well I am officially at the end of my trip. With less than 3 weeks left in London, I think panic pretty much sums up my feelings about leaving. I actually had a nightmare the other night that that I returned home and didn’t finish anything on my London Bucket List.

Elora’s London Bucket List:
1. London Eye
2. Evening Song at Westminster
3. Easter Service at Westminster
5. Parliament and Big Ben
6. Tower of London
7. London Bridge
8. John Wesley Museum
9. Hyde Park
10. Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace
11. Chelsea Stadium
12. Globe Theatre
13. Sherlock Holmes

Geesh that seems like a lot to do. On top of 2 papers, 2 presentations, and an exam. WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE??

My Bucket List came about during my travels to Ireland and Germany these last few weeks. Traveling teaches you many things. I almost forget that my time here in London is traveling from home, but discovering Dublin and Munich really have made London feel like home. Well the following are pictures from my trip accompanied by a few lessons and tips I learned from traveling.

1. Traveling in groups and friends can make or break a trip. Especially when they speak the native language.

Great group of girls in Howth, Ireland!


The Nido Spitafields group in Olympic Park in Munich!

2. Traveling is so complicated! Not only do you have to plan to get to the airport, the flight, and how to get to where you are staying, but how to get around in another country. Your options are pretty much walking or public transport. And know your airline. I flew Ryanair and EasyJet. Both have strict guidelines for flights and can be expensive and a headache if you don’t read the fine print.

Arriving in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day!

3. Traveling is exhausting. Enough said.

Taking a nap in the Dublin airport before heading back to London.

4. The Irish remind me of Southerners. They never know a stranger. I swear I met more people in Dublin then I have my entire trip. Everyone has a story and is willing to share. Maybe this was because it was a holiday and we lucked out with perfect weather, but I really do believe we share a love of culture, religion, and friendliness.

New friends in our favorite pub in Dublin!

5. Experience the culture! The following are pictures of my amazing experiences in Ireland and Germany. After all she’s leaving home…

Guinness Factory in Dublin!


Irish market!

Streets of Dublin!

Irish countryside and sunshine :)

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration !

St. Patrick’s Day superhero

Bratwurst in Munich!

Doner Kebab!

Munich!

Marienplatz

Olympic Park

German Chocolate!

Pretzels in Germany!

BMW in Munich

Possibly one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen! Cheers BMW!

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“A Hard Day’s Night”

So I have told you about my triumphs and a few of my mishaps here in London. Well, now that I have been abroad for 53 days and have made it through the entire month of February, I still don’t have the hang of it. I am going to share in some of my hilarious adventures over the past week.

Oxford:
So I have been taking Nutritional Anthropology and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford every Friday for the last 7 weeks. To make it to Oxford by 10 am we have to leave London Paddington Station at 8:22 on the Express Train. It takes one hour to get from London to Oxford and if we miss this train we have to catch the next train at 9:22 which means we miss the first class from 10-11. According to our professors, the students from last semester missed the train and were very late. Needless to say it is not acceptable to be late at Oxford or miss class and they were not pleased. The people in my program and I have done a great job on getting to the train on time and we didn’t understand how it was even possible to miss the train. We spoke too soon.

From my student living building, we take the Circle or Hammersmith and City line at 7:40 to make it to Paddington by 8:15. There are 9 stops from Liverpool Street Station and Paddington Station which takes about 20 minutes on the tube so it’s important to catch an early train. Now the story begins.

On 22 February the Circle and City lines were “severely delayed”. That is not something you want to wake up to on Friday morning when you have class at Oxford. So we make our usual trek to Liverpool Street Station and wait for the tube. It couldn’t have been that delayed right? Well at the last minute I remembered I left my train ticket back in my room… Needless to say I was stressed. I ran back to my room praying I would still make it on time. Now I was in a state of sheer panic. When I finally made it back with my ticket, the tube had just arrived. Yes, I had time to run back to my room and grab my ticket before the train arrived. I think they were right when saying there were severe delays. This is about 8 am at this point and we still had hope to make it to the station on time. Unfortunately for us, we made it to the station at 8:23 as the train was departing. WE HAD MISSED THE TRAIN. Now I had exceeded panic and went into hysteria. I couldn’t miss Oxford!!! We were supposed to take the 9:22 train and get to Oxford by 10:30 and to our building by 11. Being the bright students we are, we negotiated with the ticket office to let us on the 8:50 train. Since it was not our fault for missing the train but the unreliable public transportation, we made the next train without having to purchase another ticket. We got to class by 10:15. It was a miracle. I guess it worked out but dear goodness my heart was racing the entire day. Morale of the story: public transportation is unreliable and only wonderful when it works.

Eastbourne:
My other humorous story comes from my day trip to Eastbourne. Eastbourne is a lovely city on the coast of England (South East closest to Europe). Midterms were over for most people and many people in the program took a trip to Scotland or Paris, so only a few of us were left in London. So a few of my friends and I planned a day trip to Eastbourne and to see Beachy Head, a cliff overlooking the ocean and a lighthouse. It was going to be a perfect day. And it was, but it did not come without it’s struggles.

We left London Victoria Station at 12:17 pm on 28 February and arrived in Eastbourne around 1:30 pm. We knew we would need a bus to get out to Beachy Head so we asked the ticket office where to find a bus. He informed us that we could catch a bus from the pier. Not knowing the pier was a 5 minute walk from the station, we asked 3 different bus drivers if their bus would take us to the pier. After many strange looks, one bus driver sold us a full day bus pass and took us on our way. Well we stayed on the bus for longer than we were supposed to and ended up 10 minutes in the wrong direction. It was rather silly of us but then decided to walk back towards the pier. We took a detour to the ocean and decided to make the most of our bad decision.

When we finally made it to the pier, we found a bus who agreed to take us part of the way to Beachy Head, since that was the purpose of this trip. We drove through town and made it into the countryside of Eastbourne. We were overlooking the town when the bus stops. The driver tells points us in the direction of Beachy Head and we are let off in the middle of a sheep pasture. Seriously. We head in what we thought was the direction of Beachy Head and then finally asked a park ranger if we were anywhere close. He informed us this is not normally the tourist season and no buses went up that way. Our best luck would be to walk and then take a cab back. After finally receiving some helpful advice, we began our walk to Beachy Head.

Now from where we were it looked like the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy can see miles of Yellow Brick road over rolling hills and mountains. That was us minus the yellow roads. I’m sure people in their cars were quite curious as to why 3 girls were walking through pastures, hills, and roads up to the middle of nowhere. It was about 2 miles from where we were dropped off to our “Emerald City”.

Side note: Eastbourne is known as the sunniest place in England. We did not come on a good day. It was very cloudy, windy, and COLD. Just like it always is here in England, but it certainly did not make our journey any easier or more comfortable.

Needless to say after about 30 minutes of wondering aimlessly around the countryside of Eastbourne, WE MADE IT! And it was worth every minute. It did not even matter that it was freezing and windy. The view was spectacular.

The view from Beachy Head!

After our photo shoot, we went to the Beachy Head restaurant and called a cab to take us back down to the pier. Since it was not tourist season, most places to eat around the pier were closed. So we asked a bus to take us back into town because we were too cold to walk. It was there we learned there are multiple bus companies in Eastbourne and our ticket would not work on every bus. So we toughed it up and walked through town to find something to eat. We ended up eating at a fish’n’chips place and made friends with the waiter who has spent a lot of time in America. He had actually visited more states than I have, which made me a little sad. But regardless, we were actually early at this point for our return home. Our train left at 7 pm from the station and we finished dinner by 5:30. So we stopped for tea and hot chocolate and relaxed a bit before heading out. I was exhausted. I felt like a child worn out from a full day of playing, so I slept on the train back. Moral of this story: I should plan my trips better. But hey spontaneity works well for me!

Now that these adventures are over, I have the pleasure of 1 formative assessment, 1 2000 word essay, and 2 presentations for midterms this week. The sad thing is everyone else finished midterms last week and I will have to be locked away in my room for the next week. But after this week my course at Oxford will be finished and I will have more time to explore London. Just in time for some warmer weather! I’m not exactly sure how I get myself into these situations, but it comes with the study abroad life I reckon. To say the least it has been a hard day’s night.

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“I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”

It’s official. I live in London. I have been here for 40 days. I honestly could not tell you where the time has gone. I think time waved and laughed as it passed me somewhere on the tube. Regardless, I know I’m a local when I start complaining about tourists. Which is a funny concept to me because a month ago that was me, and technically still is. I like to believe I’m a local now and not just another tourist. People are always navigating the tube with large amounts of luggage and getting in everyone’s way. They are pushing through to the nearest maps or standing in the middle of the crowd looking for the quickest escape and sadly I have little tolerance for them. Why don’t they know this by now? If I can shouldn’t they? When I step back and really think about what I’m complaining about I just smile and laugh. I really am a local now. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. My friends and I give each other quick glances of disapproval any time people postpone our travel even by a few seconds. At least I can laugh about the situation with someone else.

But this is confession time. I might be able to navigate the tube like a champ, but I am lost if you asked me to catch the bus or worse, walk. I am already hesitant going anywhere by myself, but if I know the tube will be closed I make sure to stick with my navigation savvy friends. It is just too darn cold to stay above ground for extended periods of time. That’s my excuse anyway. I have felt my blood thickening from this cold weather in London. It is certainly a different climate from South Carolina that’s for sure. But my next big step is walking the streets of London and stumbling on the little treasures London has to offer. I know back at home my favorite places are the hole-in-the-wall places. I’m sure I can find some great places if I just man up and brave the cold.

Midterms are rapidly approaching which is a new concept for me. Back at Wofford we have a “Midterm” time during the semester that is slammed full of tests, classes, papers, and assignments. It is a nightmare. Here I have a whole week off of classes with 3 papers, 1 formative assessment (not graded), and 2 presentations. Not that this is a light load, but with a week off from class and 2 weeks to complete these assignments, I am on cloud 9. Not to mention at the end of midterms my 8 week course at the University of Oxford will be complete. I will have completed a course at OXFORD. Not many people can say they have done that. Plus, that is one less course to worry about for the last month of my time in London. Oxford has been rigorous to say the least, and I know I can speak for the other people in my program when I say we will be happy when we don’t have a 1500 word research paper due every Thursday at noon. Though I have enjoyed Oxford. It is absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen Oxford in the snow and sun and have fallen in love with the University town. Can I just stay there until I leave for Jamaica in April??

Also, at the end of midterms my travels officially begin. I have 2 trips back to back. One to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day and then off to Munich. The main incentive to study abroad, besides my Health Practice program, was for travel. I am hours from a multitude of countries and cultures. I have to capitalize on my location and the accessibility of travel. And don’t worry. I have a great group of mates just as excited for travel as I am.

As I was reflecting on the New Year I knew this would be my year to see the world and I am doing just that. Not only am I seeing the world, but I’m experiencing it. If you think about the difference between seeing and experiencing you will understand just how much my trip has meant to me thus far. My parents made the joke when I came home from my freshman year that Wofford kidnapped their daughter and sent them back the wrong girl. I have no idea who they will pick up from the airport in April. Studying abroad is the experience I needed to bring a new holistic perspective on my life. I love my time here in London. I keep saying I am just homesick enough to make sure I return to America in April. Otherwise, I might be taking up residency in Oxford!

Do you know the feeling you get when the older you get the smarter your parents seem to be? I’ve already accepted that fact, but I’m noticing just how RIGHT everyone was about the “study abroad experience”. I’m hitting that complacent stage here in London and have become acclimated to the culture here, even though I still can’t fake a British accent. I received a great bit of advice before I left that I will now share. The first 3 and last 3 weeks of study abroad are a whirlwind. The best part is the time in between when you really enjoy living in your new home. I thank all of the people who have made my first month here such a rollercoaster experience. I’m getting by with a little help from my friends…

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“I Feel Fine”

Well I have been terrible about keeping this updated. Can you blame me? Tuesday will be one month from when I left home and Wednesday is the one month anniversary in my new home in London! So much has happened in this last month, but now that I have some form of a routine I can understand the Beatles’ song “I Feel Fine”. But to commemorate my one month anniversary I thought I would share some of the things I have learned living in London.

1. Not everyone in London has bad teeth. In fact, they are actually very nice. And Yes, they serve tea but they don’t drink it all of the time. I actually probably drink it in my room more than most people here. It’s no southern sweet tea but it will do for now.

2. The exchange rate is slowly killing me. Yeah 10 ‘quid’ isn’t bad, right? WRONG! That is seriously 16 dollars. And that is just for food. I’m just saying…It’s expensive here.

3. American food is a thing. I never thought America had a special type of food like Chinese or Italian. Boy was I wrong. I miss my grits, bacon, fried chicken, burgers, hot dogs, biscuits, Bojangles, Chick-fil-a… and the list could go on forever. What I miss most about home… FOOD!

4. The University of Oxford is as intimidating as it sounds. It sure does live up to the hype. I have 1500 word research papers due every week and we move at a flying pace. I take pride in Wofford’s education and even that is looking like a break from Oxford. But never the less, I love Oxford. I am convinced I will come back to live there. By far my favorite place since I’ve been my first month.

Shout out to my math majors at Wofford!

Trinity College at the University of Oxford!

5. You don’t actually here a lot of British accents in Central London. London has so much going on from business to school to theater. Everyone wants to be here. Most of the locals mind their business and carry on. The people you hear on a regular basis are the “loud tourists” aka the Americans. We really are loud, but we aren’t alone though. Any tourist is loud and can be easily spotted. Best accomplishment in London? Getting to and from your residence without saying a word and being mistaken for a local. I have given directions to a few lost people and I have never been more proud of myself.

6. Language is still a barrier. Even if we are speaking the same language people still have the hardest time understanding us. I’ve been from Australia, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, and pretty much everywhere else. But they have different words for everything. Here’s a little guide I have just whipped up for y’all. The American word is first followed by the British.
Chips = Crisps
Fries = Chips
Biscuits = Cookies
Take Out = Take Away
Refill (money or drinks) = Top Up
Trash = Rubbish, Litter (oh and they don’t have trash cans in public places)
Oh, you like him don’t you? = You fancy the chap?
I want to lose three pounds = I want to lose stones
And everything is just spelled different. Take my word for it.

7. The little green man is my best friend. He tells me when it is safe to cross the roads. I will never understand or get used to the traffic in London. First of all, they are insane drivers and do not stop for pedestrians. The bikers are worse. And this driving on the other side of the road deal is just not cool. It makes me even more directionally challenged if you can believe it.

8. Platform 9 & 3/4 is not as cool as you think. Sorry Harry Potter Fans, it is not in between platforms 9 and 10 but located in the middle of King’s Cross Station roped off for pictures. How do they expect us to actually get to Hogwarts then?

9. People dress better here. That’s it.

10. I love America more every day. I don’t want you to think I don’t love it here. Because I do. This is hands down the most amazing experience of my life and I am so grateful for the opportunity to study here, but I miss home. After all, there is no place at home right?

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“A Day In The Life”

So I had planned on doing a weekly blog talking about the cultural differences I’ve encountered and about my curriculum, but I was just to excited to wait and share about this amazing opportunity I have here in London.

One of my courses in my program is a Social Welfare course. It is a service learning based course, which includes a community service placement throughout London accompanied with lectures learning about various welfare programs in the UK. Some of these places include community involvement, homeless shelters, shelters working with mentally and physically disabled and you can imagine the other types. I have been blessed to be placed at XLP. It stands for “The eXceL Project”. Their mission is to spread hope to what we would call “inner city” young adults. These are young children and secondary school kids exposed to gangs, knife and gun violence, dysfunctional families, drugs, and anything you can imagine. I know this kind of thing happens all over the world and we see it in the States, but I will be interested to discover just how similar or different their issues are here in London.

This is a faith-based organization, however, they are not prejudice against other religions. The primary goal is to show the school kids that an education is worth pursuing and GOD has truly blessed them with talents and ways to succeed in this world, whether they are able to see it or not. Everyone has something to proud of and these kids don’t always have the role model in their life who will be there to encourage and guide them through this vast and scary universe.

While I have been blessed to have a wonderful supporting group of family and friends who have been my everything during my educational and career goals, I cannot imagine what it must be like to face this world alone. While I will not be there very long, I pray that I may touch one of these young adults and show them love, compassion, hope, and confidence.

Obviously this is something I am extremely passionate about. I just met with supervisors today to discuss the content of XLP. I have not even begun my work with the ministry, but I am already in awe of this program. Like I said, I have been extremely fortunate with who GOD has placed in my life and I truly wish to give the same experience to someone else. It has meant the world to me to have my loved ones by my side and I know there are people out there who need and deserve that feeling.

Please check out their website below and just see for yourself what they are doing here in London. It is quite amazing and I cannot wait to keep you updated on my time at XLP. A Day In The Life of helping those in need.

http://www.xlp.org.uk/

“A Day In The Life” -The Beatles

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“While everyone else is getting out of bed I’m usually getting in it…”

Greetings from Frying Pan Alley

So it is currently day 3 of my travels. I gave myself a few days off from blogging to settle in and re-cooperate from jet lag and the massive overwhelming dream that is the city of London.

Surprisingly my travels went well. The plane ride wasn’t terrible, the food was alright, I made it safely so hey I’m not complaining. I was slightly on edge because I was without communication until I reached London, but again, it worked out. The only misery I encountered was customs…. yeah I know. So I applied for a Student Visa which is supposed to give clearance into the UK, right? Not with this lady. She was not impressed with my lack of knowledge on how to go through the UK border and with my Visa I assumed I wouldn’t need any documentation. WRONG. You know what they say when you assume… But she “did me a favor” and let me through because of my Visa… (again I was just as confused as you are) but next time I should have my documentation of my acceptance into IES. So tip for y’all. BRING ALL OF YOUR DOCUMENTATION.

Getting here was a breeze due to some wonderful Wofford friends who have their lives together more than I do. We originally thought of taking the taxi, but due to cost and traffic braved the Tube. It was a hassle with our luggage but if I can do it with luggage I can do it any time. I actually quite enjoy the Tube. It is faster, efficient and surprisingly cheaper than most transportation.

If you get anything from this blog, take that IES is a wonderful study abroad program. I am in awe of how truly inviting and prepared they are. My dorm has everything from a gym with Pilates classes, a common room full of games, and is in the heart of the financial district of “The City” of London. We are truly in the heart of London and as a small town girl… it’s a little overwhelming. But I am a Dittmar and my mother’s daughter. This small girl is going to tackle this city. But regardless, IES has set up this wonderful residence hall and really embraced us and our insecurities. I could not be happier with my choice in programs.

If you know me you know just how ridiculous I can truly be. I am constantly making a fool of myself and you can only imagine how bad it is now that I’m not in familiar territory. I’ve already tried faking a british accent to avoid looking anymore like a tourist, which is probably making this a thousand times worse. I’ve been loud in public (which is an American stereotype), DRAGGED my luggage up stairs and all over London to get to my dorm, gotten lost, asked for directions, failed scanning my ticket on the tube, incapable of communicating with locals, and just overall disorientation. It is the definition of a struggle bus. But on day 2 I successfully was able to relocate the local Tesco (grocery store) and today all by myself (and a map) got to a bookstore to buy a textbook for class. Progress right?

So this is quite a long post, but I will hopefully try to write more on my fantastic Health Practice program and the culture I’ve been thrusted into instead of boring details. But for now while America is getting out of bed London is usually getting in it… 5 hours ahead.

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6 more days…

Well, maybe I should start off by introducing myself. I am Elora Dittmar and I am a junior Mathematics major at Wofford College. I am about to embark for an incredible 4 months to London and Jamaica for IES London & Oxford: Health Practice and Policy. I never thought I would be one to choose studying abroad, you know, actually leave the comforts of home, but I’m ready to prove myself wrong. As many of you know, I have had a life dream of becoming an Optometrist. When researching programs, I stumbled upon this gem of a program. What better way to introduce myself to the health field then studying public health for 4 months.

I will go ahead and set up the need to know details about my program. Everyone seems to get confused when I try to explain it, so best of luck. I will be taking 15 credit hours: one three hour elective, one three hour public health course, one 6 hour service/lecture course, and one three hour course at Oxford University, St. Catherine’s College. My service learning course has a 6 hour/week volunteer component in London and then a field study component in Kingston Jamaica from April 11 to April 20.

Now that the basis of my program is out of the way, you can begin to understand the dual feeling of excitement and pure terror. This journey will be a tremendous opportunity for my career and personal growth, but you can’t blame me for being skeptical and yes (the word I frequently use to describe my trip) terrifying. But this is natural, right? Visiting a country or even another continent is one thing, but surviving there is a whole new deal. What will the people be like? Will they try and take advantage of my vulnerability? Will they even acknowledge my existence? Will I run out of funds? Will I pack enough or too much (probably the later)? Will I make friends? Or will I be alone? Will I embarrass myself with my lack of cultural knowledge and social customs? And it is only 6 days away…

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Categories: Pre-Departure | 2 Comments