The End of an Era

By the time I post this I’ll probably be at London Heathrow, preparing to leave England. I left Southampton on Saturday, made my way to the Holiday Inn at Heathrow and enjoyed not having to rush to the gate and board my plane. The staff here has been wonderful and even gave me a free drink voucher because my room needed 5 more minutes to be ready. Not going to complain about that!

But what’s really going through my head is this emotional tug of war battle. On the one hand, I am overly excited to head back to the US. I have never appreciated what we have more than after living here and learning about what my friends from other countries have. In the least cliche way possible, I am very proud to be an American. I’m also over the moon excited to see my family and friends…and dog. It’s been almost 9 months since I was last home, and a whole year since I started this journey, and I’m looking forward to reuniting with those who supported my decision to pursue a master’s degree.

On the other hand, my heart is breaking. This past year has been one of the most amazing years of my life. Full stop. Period. I have met some of the most interesting, courageous, caring people that will always hold a special place in my heart. They have taught me so many things, both in and out of the classroom and library settings! I can not imagine that this past year would have been as impactful as it was had those people not been a part of it.

While I try to figure out if I’m really happy or not about leaving, I’ve reflected a bit on myself. This year has brought many firsts into my life, including:
-Living in a foreign country for an entire year
-Traveling alone, to places where I don’t speak the language, eating alone, and making myself talk to others in the hostels
-Opening my mind to the world
-Giving football (soccer) a chance, and actually enjoying it
-Not being afraid to put myself out there and live a little

It has also taught me many things, such as:
-Understanding how hard English is for those who do not to speak it as their first language
-Stereotypes are just that – stereotypes. You have to give people a chance no matter who they are or where they come from

And these are just some of the initials things I thought of over my wine and pizza last night. As the days pass, I find a job and move on with my life, I know this past year will play a huge role into my personal and professional development.

So, to my new friends, I love you and miss you already. To my friends and family in the USA, see you all very, very soon!

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Why Every American is Now a “Football” Fan

As the World Cup continues, and the US Men’s National Team plays for a chance to move on tonight against Germany, I’ve continually been asked, “Do Americans really like football?” As seen on TV (no, this is not an infomercial!) and the internet, Americans are actively watching the matches, engaging on social media sites and actually acting as though they care about what happens! So where did all of these “fans” come from? In my opinion, there are two kinds of football/soccer fans in the US:

1. The real fans: These are the people who played soccer growing up, follow the MLS and/or actually understand what’s going on. They have an appreciation for the sport outside of the World Cup. Believe me, there ARE real fans in the US.

2. The “I love America” fans: This is where the majority of Americans fall into, myself included. We all sort of understand the rules since we played it in gym class, know yellow and red cards aren’t good and the point of the match is to get the ball in the goal. But that’s pretty much it. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little but not too much. For the most part, you’ll never see soccer on our TVs unless the US is playing.

But the point I’m trying to make…No matter what the sport or event, we’re Americans. We’re known for showing our patriotism. Most of us have something in our closets that has the American flag on it and if we don’t, we’ll get something! We love where we’re from and want to make that known, especially to our athletes playing. Today, it’s soccer. Tomorrow, who knows?! It could be figure skating or archery or whatever. The point is if there are Americans positively representing the country, we stand behind them.

To be honest, I do have a better appreciation for football since living in England. I’ve probably watched more matches in the 9 months I’ve been here than my whole life combined. But that’s the fun part of living in another country. I get to experience different things and gain better appreciations that I wouldn’t have been able to if I’d never left home.

So there you have it! We might not love soccer all year long, but we love our country. Alas, we love the World Cup. With that, good luck to the USA tonight and remember, One Nation One Team.

Dreaming of a Beach Day

Having been in England since the end of September, 2013, I’ve noticed a trend in the weather.  Most days, it looks something like this:

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If you couldn’t tell, I was definitely inside drying off when this picture was taken.  Cold, rainy, windy and miserable.  These are just a few of the words I’d use to describe the past few months.  I spent the last 6 years in the desert state of Arizona, so this much rain is completely out of my comfort zone!

So, when I’m feel “meh”, I think back to a few weekends ago when I went to California.  We spent the day hiking the beach, eating delicious food and celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday.

We started the day off on Zuma Beach, just a hop, skip and a drive over the mountains from my aunt and uncle’s house.  It was cloudy and a bit cool when we started but nothing compared to the weather I had come from.

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After a quick 2 mile walk/hike, we arrived at Paradise Cove, a cute little joint tucked away on the beach in Malibu.  Now, when in America, eat like an American!  While I should have gone for some eggs, I splurged on some apple pie pancakes and a mimosa.

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And what’s a birthday breakfast without an enormous cake to feed everyone?!  I think she was a bit surprised, but Happy Birthday Lindsay!

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After breakfast, the sun came out and we started our journey back up the beach.

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So if you’re experiencing the winter blues in rainy England, snowy Chicago or wherever else has crummy weather, I hope there is a sunny day in your near future.