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Home Sweet Home

Time July 2nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I still cannot believe that I’m back in Fargo, ND. Or, to be honest, that I was just in England for six months.

The whole trip back was surreal, and I think being so exhausted from all of the travel and staying awake (25 hours at the end of it all!) made it even harder to grasp. From the cab to multiple trains to a long day of airports, it was quite the journey. It was pretty cool though, seeing the sun rise in England and set over the US. Here’s a shot I got of the sunset from my final plane ride from Chicago to Fargo:


I’ve been back for about a week now, and the adjustment back into American/home-life is going much more smoothly than I would have thought. It’s been great to see friends and family that I have only been able to contact via Skype and Facebook while I was abroad. I also really missed my car and my bike …and sunshine, so I’m taking full advantage of all of those things while I have a bit of time to relax before getting into work.

I’m struggling a bit to keep in touch with everyone from Bristol, even those who live in the US, but I’m definitely working on it. I’ve completely unpacked my big suitcase and am currently in the process of re-packing my life so that I can move down to Des Moines (where I’ll continue uni in the fall) in about a week and a half. I’m sure the fact that I’m not going back to Bristol in the fall with everyone else won’t really hit me until I settle in down there, or maybe not even until I start up classes again at Drake University. I’ve downloaded an app on my phone that allows me to listen to BBC Radio 1 all day everyday, so at least I’ll be able to keep up with the music and everything going on in England while I’m back in the States. I definitely miss real commercial-free radio…

I’m determined to make it back to Bristol at some point, maybe for post-grad, or maybe just to visit all the great people I met over these past six months. I miss them all so much already! Even though getting back into the swing of things here will be a challenge, I am so glad I got the opportunity to spend the last six months in Bristol, England. It will always have a special place in my heart, and I absolutely cannot wait to go back someday!


My last few days in Bristol

Time June 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

It’s getting quite quiet around Durdham Hall as friends and flatmates trickle home. Two of my flatmates have gone so far – Mat to Portsmouth and Hannah to Los Angeles, CA. It’s slowly setting in that I will eventually have to leave, and I feel a bit sick whenever I do have to think about it. I will miss this place SO MUCH!!! I know I will be back at some point, but it certainly feels far away in the future as I am completely broke from studying abroad twice over the course of my uni career so far… Anyway, I have every intention to make my last few days here count.

After my exam last Thursday, (So glad that’s done!) the flat got together one last time to celebrate Hannah and Steffan’s birthdays and also to wish Hannah a safe journey home as she left Durdham at 4am the next morning. Lots of tears, but overall a good last night here for her.

On Friday we celebrated another set of birthdays, and then on Saturday my hall hosted ‘Durdhambury’, a day-long music festival with food, facepainting, and plenty of other fun things to do. I didn’t spend that much time down in the quad as it was raining for quite a bit of the day, but I heard most of the bands from our kitchen anyway as it overlooks the quad. It was a great chance for everybody to see each other one more time before most people headed out on Monday and Tuesday.

Yesterday I finally walked along my running route on the Downs to take some photos – something I’ve been meaning to do for ages! It was a bit cloudy, but no rain!

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(The best bit of my running route – when I get to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge in all its glory)


Today my plan is to go back down to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to explore a bit more. (Last time I was there, it was mobbed with little kids…) Then I’ll probably grab my last ever Felafel King felafel on laffa (SO GOOD) before I come back up to Durdham to pack and finish a book. Friday will probably be all about packing and saying goodbyes, although I hope to be able to squeeze in a visit to my favorite coffee shop Café du Jour at some point.

My next post will probably be coming from the other side of the Atlantic, which I can hardly come to terms with. It just sounds so ridiculous that I will have to leave Bristol and all of the great people I’ve met here. Wish me a good flight and a good ‘re-entry’ into American culture, and I will be back with an update from the US of A in a few days!


Only two weeks left? What?!

Time June 11th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It’s been a busy week for me – I’m definitely trying to make the most of what little time I have left in England! It still astounds me that I have less than two weeks left here. Where did six months go?!

Anyway, this week (despite wind and rain) I got to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to see a cool Da Vinci exhibit in honor of the Jubilee. It was really cool, but the museum itself is huge (and at the time it was packed with small children on their half-term) so I’ll have to go back sometime next week. I also finally made it out on my daytrip to Glastonbury! Again, it was super windy and rainy, so that was a bit of a bummer, but I still managed to climb to the top of Glastonbury Tor. The views were STUNNING, and it was definitely the highlight of the trip. Here are a few pictures:

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Yesterday, the one sunny day this week, I trekked down to the Harbour to take in Bristol’s Big Market, which overtook a good portion of the Harbour and the older part of the city. I had a great day out – picked up a Nutella crêpe as a late breakfast snack and a copy of Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ (highly recommended by Lynne – going to save it for the flight home).

Overall it’s been quite a good week for me – now I’ve just got to really hit the books for my Politics exam on Thursday! Wish me luck!


The Olympics Come to Bristol!

Time May 29th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This week was an exciting week for all Bristolians! On Tuesday evening the Olympic Torch made its way into the via the harbour. I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the festivities going on that night in Millennium Square, and of course to show my Team Great Britain spirit! Here are some photos from the evening:

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Then the next morning, the Olympic Torch Relay continued – from College Green, across the Clifton Suspension Bridge, finally making its way up to where I live. One of my flatmates joined me early (relatively speaking) that morning to see the action in person. It was a blast to see everyone out there lining the streets and waving their Union Jacks! We scouted out a great spot to see the runner go by:

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In other news, as you can probably tell from these photos, summer has FINALLY arrived in the UK! It has been sunny and gorgeous all week! Later today I’ll be heading out to the Downs for a BBQ and some frisbee with friends as a break from revision. Hopefully the sunshine sticks around for my last few weeks in Bristol!


What’s Happening in Bristol

Time May 16th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey all,

Click below for a little update of what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks – busy busy as usual:

A Bristol Update

Also, as I mention in the video, here’s a picture of my flatmates and I (minus Matt in this one) down by the harbour:


Find more videos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University



Time April 19th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Currently, I’m sitting in an adorable little café across the street from my hostel, enjoying chai and a rocky-road-cookie-bar-treat, waiting for my friend to arrive on her train from London. Oh, and I’m in Edinburgh. !! This is by far the farthest trip I’ve taken from Bristol, and I’m so stoked about it! The train ride through the Lake District was stunning, and not too crowded so I got my own table. (Small victories.) Yesterday I arrived in Glasgow in time for a lovely dinner with an old friend at an old-theatre-turned-hipster-restaurant called ‘The Bookclub’. Had the most amazing pumpkin & pea risotto of my life. Spent a fun rest of the night at an Open Mic Night in a laid-back pub around the uni district before calling it a night. This morning my friend took me on a little tour of her neighborhood and city center before lunch at Hula… and then I was off to Edinburgh! Trekked from the station to a really cool little neighborhood where we’re staying at the Budget Backpacker’s hostel – which is kind of awesome. So far an amazing start to the Edinburgh leg of the trip! Much more to come as I’m here until Saturday  – check back for pictures and perhaps a video as well!


My Easter Holiday So Far

Time April 16th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Only one week left before classes begin! Here’s a video-slideshow on what I’ve been up to:

(Again, if you can’t see it, just post this link in a new window:


Spring Break! Woo!

Time April 9th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Already one week into the Easter Holiday and I am thoroughly enjoying both the unseasonable sunshine and no classes. My goals over this month are a bit different than those of most of my fellow study abroad students: 1) Run as much as possible (as I have a 10k to run in Bristol in mid-May), 2) See as much of Bristol as I can, 3) Spend as little money as I have to. I suppose that last one isn’t that shocking to other study abroad students. What is is the fact that I don’t intend to leave this little island over break. I intend on getting to know this lovely city I’m living in and go on a few daytrips here and there around England, Wales and Scotland. A week ago I visited The Smallest City in England, Wells. Had a lovely day exploring the city, especially the GORGEOUS cathedral! Possibly the coolest I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a few cathedrals… This past weekend was spent not-so-cheaply (unfortunately for my bank account) in London with a friend from my home university. We had a lovely time despite the return of chillier weather. I hope it warms up again, but looking at the weather that may be a bit far off. More photos and stories to come as I head to the White Cliffs of Dover on Wednesday and Thursday. Then I’ll be in and very close to Bristol over the Easter Weekend.


P.S. In regard to the post title, my flatmate Mat decided that whenever I use ‘Spring Break’ instead of the English term  ‘Easter Holiday’ he would yell ‘Wooooo!’ in either celebration or protest of the term’s ‘Americanness. :)


Adventures in the Land of Sheep

Time March 23rd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been a month since my last post. Time has just been flying!

This month alone I have ventured across the border to Wales twice, and I’m already planning my next trip. What a beautiful country!

Early this month my flatmate Steffan invited us to stay with his family in Cardiff – obviously we accepted his generous offer. (Oh, and by ‘us’ and ‘we’ I mean me, my flatmates Becky and Hannah, and another friend of the flat Mat.) Through many public transportation struggles we managed to all make it there and back, having a lovely time along the way and meeting some fun people. Steffan started an attempt to teach us Welsh, or at least the Welsh alphabet, but struggled… Here are some photos of Cardiff Bay, one of our last stops before returning to Bristol – so lovely to see some ocean!

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Then later in the month I joined the rest of the IFSA-Butler students and staff for an Adventure Weekend in Snowdownia. In all honesty I was quite sore from the hiking and rock-climbing activities for a few days after the trip, but the beautiful landscapes we saw over the weekend have inspired me to make a return trip up to the north of Wales for a little bit more adventure-ing. I’m hoping to head up to Angelsey in May when I have another break from lectures and exams. I have a ton of photos from my hike alone, but here are a few of my favorites:

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I was also able to make it on a short excursion to Llandudno, a cute seaport town. A few friends and I had fun just strolling the pier and eating ice cream before the long train ride home.


More news on Bristol and my upcoming Easter Holiday plans shortly!



Daytrip to Bath!

Time February 22nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Here’s a little video-slideshow I made about my daytrip to Bath a few weeks ago. If you can’t see it, just put this address in a new tab and it should pop up for you:



Life in Bristol

Time February 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It seems so strange that I’ve already been in England for almost a month. But at the same time, I feel like I’ve been here for ages! I have come to absolutely love the city of Bristol – it’s just the right size that it has enough to do and see without being overwhelming. The people here are all very nice and welcoming, and I’m discovering a number of cool little towns nearby to visit for daytrips.

One of my favorite spots in Bristol is the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s one of the major landmarks not only of the city, but of the UK as a whole. One of my flatmates, Gill, took me on a walking tour of the city during my first week here, and we walked across it. Here is a rough composite I did of the view from the middle of the bridge:


When I go for my morning runs on the Downs right near my hall, there is a beautiful lookout point where you can see the bridge off in the distance. I will have to bring my camera along the next time I go out so I can post a picture of the view.

Life in the university halls has also been great. I have my own room with an en-suite bathroom and then the six of us in the flat share a common living/dining/cooking space.


In the flat there’s Gill from Essex, Mat from Portsmouth, Becky from Southampton, Steffan from Cardiff, Wales, and Hannah from California. Honestly, it has been quite nice to have another American student in the flat to bond with – especially when things get lost in translation due to the different slang, etc. We’ve had quite a few fun nights out together so far as the flatmates show Hannah and I around town, including a superhero themed party sponsored by the Student Union and dinner at Za Za Bazaar, which is the largest restaurant in the UK:

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Other than reveling in my lovely new English life, I’ve done a bit of traveling already! Last Saturday I went to Bath for a daytrip, and then on Tuesday I took the train into London to see Gavin DeGraw in concert with a friend studying at the University of Westminster. Next up is a daytrip to Oxford and then Steffan is taking some of the flatmates on a trip to Cardiff, which should be a lot of fun. More on travel in my next post!


Here we go!

Time January 27th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’ve officially made it to England safe and sound. Arrived in London last Friday, spent a good couple days getting to know the Cardiff girls and exploring the city, then on Monday I moved into Durdham Hall in Bristol! Phew. It certainly has been a whirlwind of a week.

Since I’m a little bit behind on blogging here’s a brief overview of the fantastic time I had in London with five girls who are studying through IFSA-Butler in Cardiff, Wales for the semester:

Day 1: Arrived around 7am, explored the neighborhood, met Lynne and Oran at the London office, explored some more (including Portobello Road Market, where I struggled not to buy any thing – I’m a sucker for flea markets), met the Cardiff girls, get settled in my hotel room, dinner with Oran at Wagamama (I’ve found one in Bristol – very exciting!), drinks at the Windsor Castle and the Prince Edward pubs (at the second one we ran into the IFSA-Butler students studying at City University in London and had a good time getting to know them all), sleep.

Here’s a photo of one of the cool shops I discovered nearby the Portobello Road Market while I was exploring. I don’t remember its name, but it’s an edgy clothing store and any open space is COVERED with stacks of antique sewing machines. It was so cool!


Day 2: Group and individual orientation with Oran, Cambria, Andrew, and Charlotte – we learned all about academics, student life, and travel. I was most excited to hear about all of the fun trips IFSA-Butler has planned for us throughout the semester. The Weekend Adventure in Wales sounds like it will be a blast! Afterwards… lunch, saw an interesting play called The Pitman Painters, dinner, sleep.

Day 3: All day long we traveled around London on the Big Bus Tour, which allowed us to see a TON of landmarks, including:

Big Ben


Buckingham Palace


And then on the river tour, which was included with the Big Bus Tour, we saw the landmarks at night, which was AMAZING! Here’s a composite of some cool long-exposure shots I took while on the river tour:


Then we get to Monday, when Cambria and I took the 2-ish hour train to Bristol to move me in! I’ve only just finished unpacking and getting myself acquainted with the area, but so far I am loving it! My flatmates are super nice, and the city is wonderful. Pictures and perhaps a video as well will be up soon. Cheers!



Only five days until lift-off!

Time January 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

And I just started packing… TODAY. Not my best idea I must admit. When I studied abroad last fall in Grenoble, France, I was much more on top of things by this point. Although I’ve technically been on break from school for almost a month now, I’ve only been home for about a week and a half, so I feel a little like I’m playing catch-up. After weeks of family trips, vacation time with my girlfriends, and reveling in the unseasonably warm Fargo winter, I am about ready to start my new adventure in Bristol, England.

Even though I feel like I’ve done so much “research” and planning for the big move, it seems like I still have so much to do! Aside from packing, I just received my housing assignment from my IFSA-Butler advisor and information from the University of Bristol on registration and student life. It’s all quite a bit to take in at once. Especially as I have less than a week to go… (!!)

One of the more fun little projects I’m working on in preparation for English life is watching as much English TV and movies as possible, catching up on English news via the BBC, and reading Brit-Think, Ameri-Think, a “transatlantic survival guide” recommended to me by the IFSA-Butler London staff. It was a very quick read, but I would highly recommend it to anyone planning to travel, live, or study (or all three!) in the UK generally anytime in the near future. As far as English TV/movies go, I’ve recently watched Skins, a teen-drama that is actually set in Bristol (pretty cool), and A Hard Day’s Night, an very odd film about the Beatles. I’ll probably fit in another movie tonight and take a break from packing for a bit. Or I might read some of the pre-departure material I just received. Or both. The night is still young!

– Hannah