By Morgan Halane
I’ve been back home in the States for a few days now, and the memories of my time as an exchange student are still fresh in my mind. People have been asking about how everything went, and I’m sometimes lost for words because there’s just so much I could talk about. Looking back, I can say I have no regrets about this experience. It really did exceed my expectations of what I assumed studying abroad in England would be like. Assuming what it would be like was a mistake, because while some things were as I would’ve expected, many more weren’t. In the end I’m glad that I had so many surprises on this adventure. While there were problems at points, I was always able to find a way to overcome them, and everything went much better than I’d anticipated.
I’m truly thankful to have been able to go on this adventure, and the experience I gained reinforced many skills which will be valuable in the future: living alone on a budget, managing time effectively, forging friendships and doing what others expect of you. Four months is a long time, and while it seemed to fly by very fast I’d really become accustomed to living in Lancaster. While I’ve been back less than a week, I can say that I’ve been readjusting well. When I first got back to the States everything seemed so different from England, but in no time at all everything felt familiar once again. The differences I’d experienced in England disappeared and were replaced with what I’d been used to before I’d gone to Lancaster. I’m happy to be back home, and I will never forget this adventure.
By Morgan Halane
I write this as I’m packing up my things. Today is my last day in Lancaster. I’m feeling a mixture of emotions right now. On the one hand I’m genuinely excited to get back to America. I haven’t seen my family or old friends in a very long time, and there are many things about America that England doesn’t offer. On the other hand, I’m really going to miss the experiences I’ve had and all of the wonderful people I’ve met here. Saying goodbye is never easy, and over the past couple of days I’ve had to say more goodbyes than I expected to. I would’ve never been able to predict how much I’ve grown to care about some of the people I’ve met here, Americans and Britons and citizens from across the globe, and every time I say goodbye to someone I’ve been friends with I hold onto the hope that I might see them again while at the same time realizing that there must be those who I’ll probably never see again.
It snowed for the first time since I've been in Lancaster on my last day in Lancaster
What I will take with me are the memories of this time I’ve shared with others in England. I’ve become so used to living in Lancaster that it’s beginning to feel like a home away from home. Many of the cultural differences which shocked me when I first got here now seem normal. Going back to America will definitely give me another culture shock as I enter back into life at Mizzou. I don’t know how transitioning back will feel, but it might be like another study abroad experience, getting used to things which England might’ve made me not used to. It’s been an epic, four-month-long journey, but it’s a journey that has made me a better person and it’s a journey I don’t regret going on.
My friends Sam and Chris after our final pool match
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By Morgan Halane
By Morgan Halane
Inside the York Minster Cathedral
Earlier in the day as I was returning library books a folded up sheet of paper fell out of one of them. I unfolded it and quickly discovered that it was one of the travel itineraries that I’d typed up and printed out. Looking back on my time in the UK I’m very fortunate to have visited all of the places that I did. Several places really stick out in my mind, and I will definitely look back fondly on those trips. The first trip I took in the UK was to London, and I think that’s definitely one of the reasons why I have a soft spot for that city. It was a very neat experience to explore the city by myself, and I consider that one of my first “growing” experiences as an exchange student. Two cities in the North, Manchester and Liverpool, also rank highly on my list of favorite places visited. Those two cities are extremely close together, yet, culturally and architecturally, they’re just really different. The Liverpool accent still stands out in my mind, and I really liked the fact that a lot of Manchester was easily traveled on foot. Also in the North are Whitby and York. Whitby is a trip that, had it not been organized by the university, I never would have taken. I’d never even heard of Whitby before I arrived in England, and to take the train there by myself or with friends would’ve been expensive and lengthy. York is arguably my favorite city in England. The ancient wall surrounding the city, combined with the stunning York Minster, are sights that will stick with me for a long time.
I made one trip up to Scotland, and I’m glad that I did. Edinburgh was architecturally a stunning city. I went way back in August and happened to go during the Fringe festival, which I didn’t know would be happening. Because of the festival the city was very crowded, which made walking a little difficult, but it was a great trip anyhow. Wales was perhaps the most beautiful part of the UK that I visited, with its green hills and sunny weather, and Cardiff is still one of my favorite UK cities. In the South of England I visited Bath and Oxford, both of which were very nice looking. I regret not going to Stonehenge when I was in the South, but it seemed a bit complicated to get to. I also regret not visiting Ireland or mainland Europe. I’d planned on visiting some friends on the mainland, but budget and time issues made it difficult. Not going to Ireland or mainland Europe, however, gave me more time to do a more in-depth UK experience, an experience I’ve really enjoyed.