As I promised, I’m going to continue on this idea of “home.” But this is also about my Thanksgiving travels.

A few weeks ago, I did another full week of traveling with two new friends I made at OUA.  We took an overnight train to Vienna, Austria, where we saw some wonderful museums, shopped at the twinkle-light Christmas markets, befriended a nomadic Kiwi, miraculously found a can of root beer (!) to go with our schnitzel, and realized my years-long dream of seeing the band MUSE live in concert. (I could make at least one full blog post about that concert, but it seems kind of irrelevant to the study abroad experience, so we’ll leave it with the commentary that I almost don’t like to listen to their recorded music anymore because it was so much better live.)

One of the highlights of my year–hearing Matthew Bellamy shout out “How are you feeling tonight, VIENNA?”


After a few nights in Vienna, we headed up to Prague.  We exchanged our Euros for Czech Krona (1000 krona = $50. It was dangerously like having a pocketful of Monopoly money) and found our beautiful (and apparently eco-friendly?) hostel. 
Everyone has always told me that Prague is “like a fairy tale” … and they weren’t lying.  The whole city was magical, from the river to the “dancing building” to the castle and—my favorite—the astronomical clock in Old Town Square.








It was in the UK that I realized my confusion with the whole “home” thing.  In discussions with the other OUA students we had met up with in London, I found myself using “home” in three ways.

  1. (Sitting around the English pub that was the first floor of our hostel drinking Strongbow cider)  “It’s too bad I won’t be able to drink this for another two years when we go home.” (Here meaning the states.  I’m 19, and totally not a lawbreaker, if you need some context there).
  2. (Inside the National Gallery looking at some uber famous super amazing paintings) I don’t want to spend all day here because there are other things I want to make sure we see in London before we fly home tomorrow.  (Home here meaning Arezzo).
  3. (Taking pictures of Big Ben and Westminster) We can head home and check out that Christmas market by the London Eye on the way. (Home here meaning…..wait, a HOSTEL?

Let’s break from this list thing. Did I really call a HOSTEL “home?”


You bet I did.

We only stayed anywhere a maximum of two nights.

We never had a room with less than eight people in it.

We kept our bags in locked lockers and had to pull out a slip of paper to remember the combination to get in the front door.

But it was home.

Just for a few days…it was home.


That’s completely crazy, isn’t it?



Hello from Spain! I was suppose to be back in the UK from our two week Easter Vacation on Friday, but I’m currently stranded in Spain because of the volcano in Iceland! Who knew it would cause this big of an issue! My friend and I are staying in Girona, Spain hoping that we will be allowed to fly out on Thursday! We’re trying to keep positive and it’s been a great way to meet people that I never would have met otherwise! Overall, Easter vacation has been amazing!

The first week I spent in Rome. I arrived on Easter Sunday, just in time to get blessed by the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. It was pouring rain out, but a once in a lifetime experience. My friends and I went to the catacombes on Monday and got to see some of the Italian countryside. It is absolutely beautiful. I had another group of friends meet up with me on Wednesday and we did all of the touristy sites. The Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and too many piazzas to remember! Apparently, it is not legal for peddlers to sell sunglasses and things outside on the street, so my friends and I spent an afternoon just laying in the grass outside the Colosseum watching the policia run the peddlers off the street.

After Rome, we flew to Barcelona for a few days. We arrived at night, so figuring out the Metro system before it closed was an experience. Our hostel was in a great location, but was my first experience with a questionable hostel. Word to the wise, ALWAYS check the ratings on HostelBookers and be wary if it is below 70%. I spent Sunday at the beach in Barcelona and could not have been happier! The ocean was cold, but soaking up the sun with great friends was fantastic. Monday was spent sightseeing through Park Guell and the Gothic area. I had my first tapas and chicken and rice and discovered what I did and didn’t like with Spanish food.

Tuesday, we flew to Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain. It was the offseason for tourists, so it was a nice quiet place to relax. Ibiza was my first experience with a small Spanish town, so it was my first encounter with siesta. You have to get everything you need before 2pm or after 5pm because everyone takes a few hours off in the middle of the day. Spain seems much more laid back than the rest of the world. Our passports weren’t even checked at the airports! We explored the island and went to a Hippie Market. On Wednesdays, the hippies on the island set up stands and sell their goods. We got some very cheap bracelets and had a great time. Spent a bit of time on the beach then we heard about the volcano.

Now, my friend and I are in Girona, waiting for our rebooked flight on Thursday that we are hoping won’t get cancelled. If that is cancelled, we will start looking into buses (which will take 2-3 days), trains, or a ferry. There is word they are sending the Royal Navy, so maybe we can catch that! Who knows? For now, we’re just exploring Spain and taking it one day at a time. Adios!

Hi there! Sorry it’s been so long, but it has been an insanely busy two weeks! I’ve been finishing papers for classes and country hopping and having the time of my life.

First, let me explain the schools here. It works differently than in the US. We go to class for 10 weeks, then two weeks for Spring Break, two more weeks of class, then 3 weeks of exams. As a history student, I have a paper for every class and an exam at the end of the semester. It’s that time of the year, so I’ve been writing papers every night it seems! Everything is just a little different here. Instead of letter sized paper, they use A4, which is basically just longer paper, but I had to figure out how to change my computer to A4, UK spelling, and learning a new style of referencing. You never think you can’t use MLA until you go somewhere where they don’t know what that means! But, my papers are turned in now so I can breath easy. Everyone in my classes is hoping for passing grades (which is only a 40% here!!) because your first year classes don’t count as long as you pass. Only half of your second year classes count and all of the third year counts. It’s been odd figuring out how different the school system is here. We only have class 2 hours a week per class. There is one hour for lecture and one hour for discussion groups. I can’t believe I only have 3 weeks of actual classes left!

My friends and I have been traveling like crazy lately. We spent St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin because we didn’t have class on Wednesdays. We were only there for 20 hours, but it was so fun. I saw the parade, which reminded me a lot of Mardi Gras with its colors and outrageous floats. Then we walked around and saw all the festivities that were happening the St. Paddy’s Day festival. The amount of green that was there was crazy! The flight to Dublin landed at 10 am and the flight back to London left at 630am so we slept in the airport and did the longest 20 hours of my life, but it was so worth it.

Then, this past weekend we went to Amsterdam. After the 12-hour bus ride there, 45 minutes in the Chunnel, and 2 stops at border control, it was so nice to get out and walk around! Amsterdam was absolutely beautiful. My friends and I took a 3 hour walking tour through town first and saw everything from the canals to the Red Light District. After exploring the city on Saturday, we decided to take a boat tour of the canals on Sunday morning and it was so cool to get a different view of the city. All the buildings are built to lean forward and they all slowly drift sideways, so it was fun to find the houses that were slipping sideways! Then, we went and toured Anne Frank’s house. It was one of the more sobering moments of my life. It felt so surreal to walk through the bookcase entrance that the Nazis had dragged her and her family out of and to see where they lived for over two years and pages from her actual diary. It was an experience I suggest everyone do if they get the chance because words cannot describe how inspiring it was.

This weekend is a resting weekend! Spring Break is in a week and a half and I am hoping to see Italy, France, Germany, and Spain! I hope it works out, *fingers crossed*. Cheers!

Coming to England has given me so many opportunities I never imagined I could have. I have been able to meet and talk to so many different people from all over the world! A great way to meet people is through programs that are put on by the International Student Association at the school. It is wonderful to get with the other international students and compare their journey here so far with my own. This past weekend, the activity was visiting Stonehenge and Bath. I was very excited to go to Stonehenge and see one of the seven wonders of the world. I was not disappointed. It felt surreal seeing in person what I have heard about back home. You aren’t allowed to touch the stones anymore, but we were able to get rather close with the barriers. You basically just walk in a complete circle around the stones, but it was an amazing experience.

Next, we had an hour bus ride to Bath. Here, we had a guided tour through the city, learning about all the history of the Roman Baths and how the city was created. It is fascinating to walk on roads that have such a rich history and see the baths the Romans felt were so sacred. We took an audio tour through the hot spring baths and took a drink from the mineral water. It has over 40 minerals in it, if I remember correctly, but it did not taste good AT ALL! It reminded me of the taste of a penny, but it is suppose to be the healthiest water in the world!

This weekend, my friends and I are taking a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. We’ll be on a bus 8 hours overnight to get there, but I can’t wait to do more traveling! I will try to figure out how to put up pictures soon. Cheers!

Windsor Castle

Well I’ve been here three and a half weeks now and I always seem to be busy! If I’m not in class or hanging out with new friends, we are traveling. First, let me strongly suggest taking any school sponsored trip. They are a great way to see the country and it is usually at a discounted price. So far we have been to Cambridge, London, and Windsor Castle.

Windsor Castle was amazing. The amount of history there was shocking. It felt so surreal to be standing in the same place that so many heads of state and Kings and Queens had stood before me. I saw paintings that I had just been learning about in class the last week and saw where King Henry VIII and Charles I were buried. I could have spent all day soaking up the history that was there. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the castle, but the outside was beautiful. And the Queen was taking residence there while we were visiting, so we were hoping to spot her all day with no luck. I think that the amount of history that can be experienced here is what I am most excited about continuing to visit.

So just a few things I have discovered since I arrived in England:

* Credit Cards and bank cards only work some places. They use cards with chips in them here instead of “swipe” cards, so there are some places that can’t take our type of cards. I always carry cash on me now.

* They use “cheers” for many things. It can mean ‘Thank You’, ‘Bye’, ‘Good Job’, or, of course, what someone says when clinking a glass together at the pub.

* Oklahoma is known as Cowboys and Wild West. When I tell someone I am from Oklahoma, they always ask me if I can ride a horse, and if I have any cowboy boots. It is so funny!

* Classes here have much less homework. For all four of my classes, I only have a paper and a final exam. They also have final exams for 4 weeks. It is a very long exam period.

* The fashion here is very different. The girls mostly wear leggings and boots all the time. It is much colder here in England than it is in Oklahoma, so I can only imagine that those girls are cold!

* Culture shock DOES happen in England. I assumed coming to England that I wouldn’t get much of a shock. I was wrong. The first few days were hard with everything being done differently and the organization is very different here, but I just rolled with the challenges as they came and things are looking up. It helped to talk to friends who had been through it before who could let me know I wasn’t alone in the process.

* They have a lot of the same brands here, but with different names. ASDA is WalMart, LYNX is AXE, etc. And the things you would expect to be the same (such as Coke or Pepsi) tastes different here. Not a huge difference, but a slight one. It took some getting used to.

Just a few little things I have learned in my first two weeks here!

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