Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So Long, Farewell....

So it comes to this, my very last post on this blog. I'm almost teary-eyed. It's the last and final chapter in a piece of my unforgettable study abroad experience. Thankfully, it's not the very last piece. I'm planning to make a scrapbook about studying abroad, with all the little things I saved--it will be my first, so that will be an adventure in of itself. I've been asked to write about my experiences for a school publication as the first undergraduate of my program to study abroad, and that will be very exciting too (let the writer's block begin!).
That's enough about the future for now. The last entry is when one should be waxing poetic, but I am unfortunately horrible with poetry--my only attempts (for school) have been safely locked away in a vault with other possible blackmail material. So instead I hope to wax whimsical, if such a thing is possible.
What have I learned? Hmmm...
-Always, always, always get a map before you get lost in a foreign city--or, at least know where one is located nearby with a nice big symbol that says "You Are Here."
-Give me a map and I can find my way--at least by the third time around.
-You don't always want to use a map when visiting a site, sometimes wandering around is just fine--especially if the map looks like a piece of mysterious modern art with no obvious connection to a discernible physical layout, as can happen at large significant cultural institutions.
-Hydration is a very good thing--and by hydration, I mean drinking water, lots of it.
-Not all civilized countries have air conditioning (and that's okay).
-If a food stand is selling "jackets," they're referring to jacket potatoes (small baked potatoes).
-"Cress" is alfalfa sprouts, but "watercress" is something else
-Fries are chips, and chips are crisps.
-An elevator is a lift, but a restroom is not the loo, it's a toilet.
-It's not a movie theater, or even a film theatre, it's a cinema (I found this out while asking directions--went through about half a dozen synonyms before a lightbulb went off and the person said: "Oh, you mean a cinema...")
-Free museums are awesome
-British people like (or at least don't mind) nice young clueless Americans, and can be very kind to them
-Americans are evidently considered a bit exotic by some
-Only order fish 'n' chips when you're really hungry-- talk about generous portions!
-You can tell how many tourists regularly eat at a restaurant or other food place by if they have ketchup, how much and where they keep it (do you have to ask for it?).
-It's not just Southerners who use terms of endearment ("honey," "sugar," etc.) with strangers--UK natives just use different ones ("love" was the most common: "you just go down that road and turn left, love")
-There's a thrill one can get only by seeing the real original
-Don't be afraid to ask for directions--just find someone safe, official-looking and friendly to ask
[Note: despite how many times I've mentioned asking for directions, I really did find my own way almost all of the time.]
-"Cheers!" works for just about any method or mode of communication--thank you, goodbye, c'est la vie, you're welcome, whatever.
-Bring earplugs! If not for the airplane, then just in case you want to sleep when there's someone loudly coming in after midnight from pubbing/clubbing or you're near enough to the river that psychotic seagulls can wake you up shortly after the pubber/clubber scene settles.
-Remember, whatever you buy you will also have to pack.
-Smile and laugh as much as possible. Whatever happens, it's why we call it an adventure!

Well, I gave some money, a handful of sanity and a month of my life, and what did I get in return? A posse of friends whom I hope to always keep, 3 t-shirts, a couple of postcards, almost 900 pictures, a little elephant in a kilt, a dozen kooky stories to tell, a renewed sense of wonder in Providence, and a summer I'll never forget.

Thanks very much, I hopeall this was as enjoyable for you  reading as it was for me writing.

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