Over the Hills and Far Away – Week 3 and Thriving

Now it is October. It has rained. I have wandered. Friendships have been formed. Gin has been consumed. And I am in love…

…with this city, that is.

No, really. I have never been more content than strolling through various parks and seeing the sights and laughing until I cry with my new friends (no new British friends yet, but hopefully soon). Who knew that throwing an invite to a place called  the “Cereal Killer Cafe” would be the beginning of something this great. Granted, it’s only been a week, but you can learn quite a bit about people with a slightly intensive game of 20 Questions.

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This is definitely what they call “The Honeymoon Phase” of studying abroad, and I am not complaining. I have gone on adventures, seen museums and galleries, eaten good food (which is a huge victory in itself), and dominated karaoke night. Don’t even get me started on the parks. I love them so much I could cry.

This whole week has been full of victories. Getting lost is no longer much of an issue (unless it’s trying to find my classes–another story) because I am getting a feel for the streets and the city and all its twists and turns. The fact that I walked down Bloomsbury Place and passed Bloomsbury Square, only to turn onto Bloomsbury Street, was zero percent a bad thing. I may have an absolutely terrible sense of direction, but that hasn’t stopped me. I mean, having Google Maps helps a lot, of course, but I am for sure getting used to the geography of this place.

Other wins come in the form of (surprise, surprise) food. Let me tell you, when I got here I was on a steady diet of Frosted Flakes and toast, and that was so not okay with me. But it was all I really recognized. I didn’t want to venture very far from home and have to carry all my groceries back by myself. I was nervous about staying too long in a small store and looking utterly lost and confused. But then I hung out with Amy. And then Becca moved in. And then I made friends. And now I am living on peanut butter toast and then whatever we go out and eat–pizza, burgers, Chinese, and so on. Plus, the nutrition facts labels here are weird, so I don’t even bother with them. I can’t even bother with them. There really is no use when I have better things to do–like go to an art gallery. It makes me feel like my eating disorder days are so far behind me, and I have absolutely no desire to look back on them. Full speed ahead on the Recovery Train.

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Classes have finally started, and I am thankful to finally be able to fall into a routine. I mean, if you call getting wildly lost trying to find a certain classroom a routine…I woke up with a bit of dread that I was going to actually have to go to class. To actually have work to do. That part I am not necessarily excited to jump into, but as long as I can end the night with my squad at the Rocket, I should be sailing smoothly. Thank God I have wonderful people to share this experience with.

Remember how blissful I was when I started at Cal Poly two years ago? That is more or less how I feel about this place so far. I am just so happy. Watching dogs run around the park and seeing the leaves swirl around in the wind brings me the utmost peace. It is quite the opposite of sitting in this bustling corner of campus with a cafe, but it is not difficult to escape the conversations around me and find my happy place.

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Yes, I miss California. I miss In-n-Out. I dearly miss my friends. You can find me wishing for the beach and the mountains of San Luis Obispo. I have serious FOMO seeing my friends’ snapchats and pictures. But I would not trade this experience for anything. I love the energy of the city and the relaxation of the outer zones. I love the little pubs and restaurants I have discovered. I love the fact that the museums are free.

Apparently, I am going to experience some culture shock and major homesickness, but for now, I am happy and soaking in every little bit of this city.

-Ash

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