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Monday, August 29, 2011

13 days!

Today was kind of painful, not going to lie. And it's not because I teach 11 4-5 year olds at church.

So, a bit of background info: back at UT, every Sunday (well, most Sundays), I'd have a grandma visit with one of my best friends, Matt. He'd come over to my dorm room and chill with me and my roommate, Alice, for a few hours. I love(d) those grandma visits!
Since I'm not in Austin this year, Matt and Alice skyped me today. It was so much fun! I miss those two A LOT. Like, Alice and Matt were the two that helped me survive the worst semester of my life. I seriously wouldn't have made it if it weren't for them. Lol, anyway, it was great getting to talk to them today. The best two hours of my never-ending summer. However, it made me realize how it's going to be so long until I see them again! A whole year from now! This just made me think of how different Wales is going to be, and it made me think of how I am going to be starting all over again. I'm not good at being social as it is... why am I doing this to myself?! Ha, just kidding, but seriously, this is going to be one tough year.

Confession time: I'm mostly worried about church. I didn't feel like I fit in at all with the congregation I was in down in the lovely ATX, so I am concerned about fitting in over in Bangor. But hey, I'll manage! Just gotta have faith and be myself, right? Haha, well, maybe I should hold off on being myself until I make friends. Just kidding.

Oh, fun fact. "Starving college student" is going to take a whole new meaning for me, that meaning being scarily real. Turns out all the financial aid I'm getting this semester, every last penny, goes to pay for my tuition/fees for Arcadia University. Weeee... funnnn....
Good thing I have loving parents who won't let me starve!

Gosh, sorry to revel in the obvious, but it just feels so freaking weird to not be in Austin right now. I am grateful to not be stuck in the 108 degree temps, though! Seeing all these updates and stuff from friends and realizing I am not apart of that this year. It's just... weird.

Alrighty, well, that wasn't so much an update, but not to worry! Real updates will be occurring soon!


IN 13 DAYS!


So exciting!

Nos da!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OH. MY. GOSH.

I woke up to the most amazing email in my life.

Arcadia sent out an email about little trips/events they do for the study abroad students. THERE IS SO MUCH. And the activities are so exciting! There's a Wales weekend adventure, a trip to Stonehenge, a Scotland weekend adventure, a trip to the Charles Dickens Festival in Rochester, gahhh there's more, but those are the ones I'm most excited for, at the moment. We have to pre-register for the events, and if there are more students who pre-registered than spots for any event they pick at random, so I may not get to do everything, but it's still exciting.

I also received an email that my visa has been issued and it will arrive in 2-5 business days. I'm officially legal to study in Wales!!!

Even though this whole process is time consuming, money consuming, and a bit stressful, I'm really hoping it is worth it in the end. There is so much discrimination between different cultures and nationalities; after doing the small bit of traveling I've done already, I really feel that the only way for the world to come together is via trying to really understand other cultures, hopefully with some travel thrown in! Obviously we need to learn to be patient with those of different backgrounds who may even live just right next door to us first. I am so fortunate to have grown up in Texas, where there are a lot of different backgrounds.

Well, I guess that's about it! I hope y'all have a fantastic day!

P'nawn da!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh, by the way,

I'm in need of opinions.
First: International phone. Yay or nay? I personally don't want to be in constant contact with the United States (just because I want to fully immerse in a new culture), but at the same time it'd be easier to carry on with my phone number and everything. Also, I hate my phone so it gives me an excuse to get a new one. But then, I could just get a pre-paid phone once I get there. That way I can talk to people there and not be in contact with the U.S. Opinions? Suggestions?

Second: Social groups. I want to join SCUBA, Rock Climbing, and Surfing. Obviously I won't have time for all three. Any opinions as to which I should join? Then an explanation would be nice :-)

Oh, well, looks like I only had a need for opinions on 2 subjects. Alrighty then, so, any opinions would be nice! You can tell me via facebook, email (chandrie.cook@gmail.com), or however you feel.

Bore da!

Update time!

Alright, I am currently waiting to hear back about my visa. I mailed in all of my papers and my passport to the center in New York on either Friday or Thursday. Eh, it might have even been Wednesday... either way, I received an email that it arrived, so yay! Unfortunately, I had to wait until I got some papers from Arcadia University (the affiliate university here in the states that has the program I'm enrolled in) in order to fill out the application for my visa. Now, it takes 3-5 weeks for a visa to be processed once it arrives in New York. I received those papers about a week and a half ago, leaving me with about 5 weeks until I leave (26 days from today!!), so I felt it necessary to pay for priority service. An extra $150, but at least I know that I won't get kicked out of the UK, right? Bleh.

Let's see... oh, so, lovely Arcadia knows I have no money until I get my loans, yet they expect me to pay $2,026 of tuition by today. (They're so nice, letting me put off the rest of the amount I owe, about $16,000, until I get my loan...) I felt so screwed. I spent almost everything I had on my plane ticket and my visa, leaving me with about $30 in my account. Luckily I have an incredible family who scraped together and let me borrow the money. If it weren't for my brother having gotten a full-time job this summer I would have had to sell my violin or something.
Word of advice: When studying abroad, save every penny you have so when unexpected fees appear you can pay them.
In other words, don't buy a new iPod Nano at the beginning of summer because you have left over loan money from the previous semester. (Even though I do love my Limey so).

Ohhh man, so, even though this isn't study abroad related, I crashed my bike on Thursday! (That reminds me; I did send off my visa papers last Wednesday. I remember because I was able to walk.)
Yeahh, my whole neighborhood is under construction, with only one road that I can take to main Lehi without a fear of dying. Unfortunately, that lovely road is now closed. Due to construction. I'd only been on my bike ride for like, 3 minutes, so I was determined to keep cycling. I turned onto this road that had been under construction in May, but now it's just a little bit under construction. There was a bit of traffic, so I went into the rich neighborhood beside that road rather than going down it. When I got out of the rich neighborhood, I was on the other end of that road, but traffic was lighter, so I decided to go ahead and take that road back to where I'd started my bike ride. I was riding, probably around 15 mph, and I hit this huge hole in the road I hadn't seen. I lost control of my bike and crashed into the concrete barrier that was lining that road. Have you seen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? You know, that part during his first Quidditch match where he catches the snitch, hits the field, and then does a couple of flips off of his Nimbus 2000? I kind of looked like that, except I flipped sideways. I don't remember exactly how many times I flipped, but I do know that my bicycle was on top of me at one point. I jumped right back up and picked up my bike. Both of my knees were covered in gravel, black powder (not quite dirt), and blood. My left elbow was also looking that way. I figured I was done biking for the day so I got on my bike and started heading home. That's when I noticed my lovely Greta wasn't quite right. The impact of crashing into the concrete barrier had readjusted my handlebar. In order to keep my wheel straight, I have to have my handlebar turned to the right. I biked maybe 1/4 of a mile then decided since I'd nearly died once (if there had been a car behind me, or if I hadn't worn my helmet, I'd be a goner), I probably shouldn't be biking with a bike that couldn't face straight. So I dismounted and walked 1.5-2 miles back home.
At first I was pretty pissed, but then I realized it could have been a whole lot worse, so I'm happy :-) However, I am currently disabled and cannot walk, run, or really do anything that requires standing for a period of time. I can't really bend my knees or my left elbow either. It's a bummer... like, I'm suffering from exercise withdrawal. Oh! But I didn't break any bones :-) I do have a pretty nasty bruise on my right clavicle, though. And some pretty uncomfortable road rashes.
Well, that's been my exciting life, I suppose.

But, travel related, I got to go to New York and search for my great-great grandpa's grave with my mom and my youngest brother, Aidn. I FOUND IT! (With a ton of help from my mom!!!) It was awesome. Clockville Cemetery in Clockville, Madison, New York. It was incredible. Plus I found a whole lot of other people I'm related to (and didn't even know it) thanks to a mysterious old man in Otselic. It was a great experience. I love grave hunting.

Oh goodness, I cannot wait to get to the UK. Part of it is I feel so trapped when I'm home for the summer. I love my family and visiting them, but my only mode of transportation (since all the cars are taken for job-bound folks) is biking. The only road out of this neighborhood that is safe to bike on is closed, so I see it as extended quarantine time. Once I'm in the UK, though, FREEDOM!! I'm going to have 2 extra days before orientation when I arrive, so I'm going to take a day and explore Liverpool. I am so freaking excited!! Then I think I'll head to Bangor the next day and do some exploring in Wales. Either way it's going to be great. I really want to see Holyhead, too, since the Holyhead Harpies hark from there :-D

Ok, that really is it for now.

Bore da!