When the Jet-lag Hits & Reverse Culture-Shock

Just over a week ago, I woke up for the last time in Kensington, London. It was the last time I woke up on my terrible bed with the springs sticking out of it. The last time I walked out the doors of Room E in Flat 17 of Manson Place.

I dragged my two 47 pound suitcases, my 26 pound backpack and my relatively light duffel bag down the six flights of stairs to the street. Then I was off to South Kensington station to take my last ride on the tube via the Piccadilly line to Heathrow Terminal 5 and board a flight to Chicago.

Most of the tube stations don’t have elevators and instead have stairs and escalators to get from the street level down to the trains. South Kensington Station is no different. I somehow managed to get both suitcases, my backpack and my duffel bag down the many stairs and onto the tube. I was on my way home!

I had an eight hour flight from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare Airport and was stuck in the middle seat. The joys.

 


 

Fast forward 10 days and I am still struggling to readjust to life at home. I never imagined it would have been as difficult for me as it has been. Between my struggle to get back on U.S. time (I continue to wake up at 4 a.m. no matter how hard I try to stay asleep), the various visits to the chiropractor due to the effects left on my body because of my heavy suitcases (“every chiropractor’s worst nightmare” as I was told), the tube stairs and stress, and the mess that is my room after dropping four months of my life on its floor, adjusting back to life at home has not been easy.

Prior to leaving for London, I had read that both transitioning to a new place when studying abroad and then transitioning when coming home can be difficult. The transition for me from home to London was most definitely not easy. I missed my family, friends, familiar foods and stores, as well as the simple things in life such as my bed. For some reason, I believed that it would be a simple transition when coming home. Why I thought I wouldn’t be affected this time, I do not know.

Many call this transition home from being abroad for a while “reverse culture shock” and its something I really didn’t think I would experience. My home is my home, something I’ve known for 20 years. How could it ever be difficult to come back to something I know so well? But, the last four months I spent away from the places, people and culture I knew, and London slowly became a place I allowed myself to call home. I didn’t realize that doing so would make coming home so difficult.

Every day, I still wake up thinking I’ll walk outside, make the short stroll to South Ken Station, and catch the District Line to explore some new place in London. Instead, I’ve traded in my Oyster Card for a set of car keys, the six flights of stairs up to my flat for a treadmill work-out and my raincoat for — oh wait, no, I’ve still been putting my raincoat to good use with all the rainy weather Wisconsin has been having.

One of the biggest things that I have had to adjust to, is how much free time I now have. In London, it was rare that I would have an hour to myself to watch a show on Netflix, take a nap or message friends. Since being home, I suddenly have too much free time than I know what to do with. AKA, I’ve already caught up on this season’s new episodes of Scandal and BOY ARE THEY GOOD. What I haven’t done, is finish unpacking or putting away all of my things from the last four months. I’ll get to it eventually, I swear.

I know that eventually, things will get back to normal, its only a matter of time. It will be easier when the rest of my friends are home from college, I start my summer internship and job and am busy again. Until then, I’m off to finish Gilmore Girls and run some more miles on the treadmill!

Cheers London, and thank you for an amazing four months!

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Let’s go to the Beach, Beach

Last Saturday, all of the UW-Madison students went on a trip I had been looking forward to since the beginning of the semester: Brighton.

Brighton is directly south of London and is an English seaside resort town. It is also known for its nightlife, shopping and festivals. We took a coach bus from London to Brighton and got there in about an hour and fifteen minutes. The bus dropped us right in front of the PEBBLE beach and Brighton Pier. From there, our tour guide took us on an hour-long walking tour of Brighton.

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On the walking tour, we mainly walked through the shopping and restaurant district in the main part of downtown Brighton. There were tons of people out shopping as it was a Saturday morning. There were the classic chain stores like Gap and H&M, but the smaller, more local shops outnumbered these big box stores. Apart from these local stores, there are also many local restaurants in Brighton. Many of these restaurants happen to be vegan and vegetarian, not something that is quite as common in London.

After walking through the shopping district, we made a stop at the Royal Pavilion, also known as the Brighton Pavilion. It was built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, in 1811. This building looks as though it should be placed somewhere in India, rather than on the English seaside coast. I guess it just adds to the quirks of Brighton.

We were then free to explore on our own until we had to meet the bus to go back to London at 4 p.m. We had spent most of our time further inland where the shops were, and headed directly for the beach and water.

Normally, I am not a fan of resort towns and beaches. I hate beaches. Brighton is different though. It doesn’t have a normal beach, it has a pebble beach. Its fantastic.

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After lunch, I spent a lot of time on the beach taking photos with a few friends (probably the most time I have ever spent on a beach if I’m being honest). We had so much fun throwing pebbles around and a few people almost got caught by some of the waves coming in.

Post photo shoot, we headed up the stairs to walk along Brighton Pier. The pier is totally commercialized for tourists as it boasts stands selling 99 Flake ice cream cones (usually for 2.50 instead of 99 p…typical), carnival games and rides. The rides are at the end of the pier where there are typical rides similar to the Tilt-A-Whirl and Scrambler, but there are even two small-sized roller coasters. Its quite an interesting set-up.

We still had a few hours left and were yet to find the famous colorful beach huts of Brighton. From the pier, we weren’t able to see any sign of them, so we ended up asking a girl working one of the stands which direction we needed to walk in to find the beach huts. The beach huts are west of Brighton Pier, so we walked along the pavement near the beach. This path is lined with water-front restaurants, bars and shops. Being a Saturday, it was incredibly packed but began to thin out the further we got from Brighton Pier.

Eventually, after about a 25 minute walk from Brighton Pier, we spotted the beach huts. These beach huts are used by locals in the summer to keep food in, change clothes and just hang out in. They are pretty small but do the trick. It was a beautiful day out, and while still early spring, there were a few owners sitting inside reading a newspaper in their beach hut with the doors open. Quite cute.

The colorful beach huts again called for an impromptu photo shoot.

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It was then time to head back so we could catch the bus home. Along the way, we stopped to get a 99 Flake ice cream (for two pounds), and made it back with plenty of time to spare. If I had more time here in the UK, I would definitely make another trip down to Brighton to explore for a longer period of time. It is such a cool city and we barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer as we had a limited six hours there. Until next time!

The Day I Met Ed Sheeran

Yes. I’m devoting an entire blog post to this day. Would you expect anything less from me?

On Tuesday, I did something I’ve been trying to do for over seven years: meet Ed Sheeran.

I woke up at 6 a.m. and was to the BBC Broadcasting House by 7:30 a.m. And NO MOM, I was not the first person there! I swear. I sat on the ground at the corner of the barrier that stood outside of the BBC Radio 1 studios.

After sitting on the cold, hard ground for just over two hours, it was time to stand up. Ed’s manager Stuart Camp, his guitar technician Trevor Dawkins, and the rest of his small team had arrived. Ed was not far behind.

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The forever sassy Stuart Camp and Mark 

At 9:52, a van pulled up and he got out. At first I was unsure if he would even stop to say hi to all the fans as the radio show he was going to be on started at 10 a.m., but in true Ed fashion, he did. Not only did he stop to say hello to us, but he literally stopped to take a photo with every single fan along the barrier.

I stood in the corner (the best spot), as I was able to take photos on my camera as he approached, and then, once he was in the corner, he spent the most time there as there were more fans in the area.

As Ed came closer, I noticed something very odd. When Ed got to an area of fans, everyone went silent and instead only stuck there phones out in his face. Barely anyone actually said hello or talked with him. It was weird.

Once Ed was in the corner, I worked up the courage to say hello. While it wasn’t the longest of conversations or filled with the most content, it is one that I will never forget. It went a little something like this:

Me: “Hi Ed!”

(Ed turns and looks at me, I freeze inside, what the heck did I just do???)

Me: “Happy belated birthday!”

Ed: (A small smile spreading on his face) “Aw, thank you!”

(Ed continues to smile, then turns back to take photos. I die inside.)

Then he approached and I handed him my phone to take a photo. It was amazing.

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Ed then went inside and was interviewed then performed five songs in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.

I waited outside with a few friends in the off chance that he came back outside to say hello again after. Good thing I did because the BBC Radio 1 doors are a hot-spot for celebrities I guess.

I ended up talking to Jedward, twin brothers from Dublin that are pop-singers (Ed is also obsessed with them). And then Nick Grimshaw, the host of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, and then Katy Perry also spontaneously came out and talked to the crowd. You could say it was a casual morning. I now know where I will be hanging out on days when I don’t have class…

I still can’t believe this happened and it is most definitely a day I will never forget. 7 years in the making.

P.S.

I will be traveling on spring break for the next week and a half and will not have my laptop so this will be my last update for a while. You can expect a long blog post about my travels in Europe when I get back!