On the afternoon of September 19, 2012, one of the greatest adventures of my life began. I was on my way to a foreign country. That country was England. My ultimate destination was a place called Edge Hill University, located in a little town called Ormskirk, north of Liverpool. Unfamiliarity was to be the initial basis of the trip, as I had no idea where I was going and I didn’t know a single person over there, as I was the only person from my home university travelling there. While that notion made me a little nervous, I was excited. Excited at the prospect of actually getting off the continent of North America for a few months; meeting new people and travelling places I had always wanted to go to. I had no idea of the magnitue of the adventure I was about to begin on.
After that storybook/essay-type introduction, it’s easy to tell how I still feel about England. As I sit here writing this, I’m reminiscing on the first few days of my experience. I remember how tired I felt arriving at the Manchester airport the morning after leaving. Having only slept for a few hours on the plane ride over, I stood in the customs line, struggling to stay upright and awake. I felt like I had been up for a full 24 hours and my body was telling me it was still nighttime, which technically it was, in the United States.
Somehow I managed to endure the first full day there in a daze, which included a tour of the campus and the town of Ormskirk, meeting my fellow American dorm mates and figuring out how to use English currency, whose small, colorful notes fascinated me. By the time evening came, the only thing I could do to stay awake was unpack. I shuffled around my dorm room, half-asleep, arranging my stuff as best as I could. When night finally came, I laid down in bed, instantly falling asleep.
I also recall one of the biggest issues there the first few days there: Internet access. The dorms we were living in, which were built in the 1960s, had two different wireless networks: one for visitors and one for students. Since we had no way of accessing the student network for a few days, most of us ended up down in the common room with our laptops, as it was the only place we were able to acquire the guest network. It was there that most of us met each other. Sometimes I wondered if the school did it on purpose as a way to have us Americans mingle. It definitely worked for us.
I admit, to look back and think this was actually a year ago is a bit scary, but illustrates how profound and enduring the experience is. Even a year later, I can still clearly remember how I felt after the first few days there: that I loved this place and wouldn’t want to leave for awhile.