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Back in the States: The Re-adjustment Phase

Time January 8th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well it has been nearly a month since I returned from studying abroad in Cardiff. Even though I am happy to be back and see all my family and friends, I truly do miss living in the United Kingdom. I told my family I wish I could bottle them up and take them to the London.
It seems like once I got fully acclimated to the UK lifestyle; it was almost time for me to leave. Now that I am back here, I find myself having to readjust to my hometown and my home university. Some of the adjustments included time zone differences and weekend routine activities. For the first 3 weeks I was at home I found myself waking up at 4 a.m. central time, which would mean it was 10 a.m. in Wales. Nowadays, I wake up about 6 in the morning.
One of the things I miss the most about in being in Cardiff is walking around the city and seeing all the various architecture. I also miss many of the news contacts I made as well a restaurant I enjoyed called Nando’s.
Overall, my study abroad experience enabled me to grow mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I am very thankful for the experience, because it has changed my life forever. For example at first I was considering a career in domestic policy, now I am going to graduate school for international policy so I can have international component in my career. Hopefully, one day I will get to come back to the United Kingdom and work in London.



Wrapping it Up/ Advice for Future Students

Time December 14th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The past two weeks I have been thinking about what I wish I would have known before I came or when I arrived in Cardiff.
One thing I wished would have been stressed more before I came is the UK academic style compared to the U.S. school system. The transition def was not as easy as I assumed it would be. Course-work, language usage, along with the structure of the class are some of the main differences. Future students should be prepared to be frustrated at times, but please do not let your frustrations consume your study abroad. I’m not sure how many deep breaths I had to take or how many times I had to tell myself God did not bring me over here to fail, but to excel.

As it relates to the cultural sc1nce I wish I would have signed up for facebook notification of Cardiff events; as a resut of late sign-up I missed the performance of Kyla & the Funky Cousins (uk funky house music artist).

Though I have never been much of a jeans and tshirt girl, I decided to pack mostly jeans and tshirts, because they are easy to pack. In the UK, many universities are not fine with jeans and tshirt wearing female students. Most female students dress up for class. So future students do not be surprised.

Since most UK universities do not have student meal plans, most students cook thier own meals or order out. For the first month and a half I ordered out. Finally, I decided to go to the grocery store to save more money. The amount of money I saved from cooking my own meals is incredible. I wish I would have started earlier.

Lastly, if you are a minority student preparing to study abroad understand and expect race relations to be very simliar and different to those of America. If you bear that in mind and keep a positive attitude, open-mind you won’t have any problems that you can’t overcome.

Okay so here is a list I would have developed about must see or do in Cardiff:
Brandi’s Best of Cardiff List:
Best Night-Club: Glam
Best sandwiches: Cafe in the Park
Best Splurge Store: House of Fraser
Best Budget Dept. Store: Primark
Best Grocery Store: Tesco
Best Snack: Toffee Waffles, Welsh Cakes
Best Prepaid Phone Service: Orange
Best Value Store: Poundland
Best Candy Bar: Daim
Best Pizza: Pizza Express
Must-see: Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Bay, Welsh Life Museum



Thanksgiving in The UK

Time December 1st, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This Thanksgiving was my first thanksgiving away from my family. Initially I had planned to be in Cardiff and just go about it as a regular day. A few days before the holiday, my friend in London called me and said her and her flat mate were having a thanksgiving dinner. I decided to go since I did not have classes that day.

After a few hours of being in London with my friends, I begin to really miss my family. Though I was very thankful having people to share the holiday, it still could not replace the traditional thanksgiving we have at home. I also couldn’t stop thinking about the black Friday deals I would miss.

Once all the guests left, I was able to sort out my thoughts and realize I have so much to be thankful. Besides my family, friends, and good health I am very grateful for having the opportunity to study abroad.

Now I have about 13 days left before I head back to the U.S. I can’t believe it’s time to leave already. Studying abroad has help me to experience a taste of globalization and multiculturalism in a different way. I am also very much looking forward for my opportunities to go abroad, which is why I decided to apply to graduate school where I do one year in the states and another in Switzerland.

I refuse to spend my next two weeks counting the days, instead I want to enjoy my last outing with friends, finish up finals, and absorb my last breath in the UK for 2009.

Homemade Sweet Potatoe Pie I madeFriends on Thanksgiving


Adventures of BP: Dublin Edition

Time November 18th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Me in front of the Dublin Castle
Wow. I can’t believe I only have one month left before I have to head back to the states. Lately, I have been thinking if I have done everything I set out or wanted to do while I was here. I have short list to dos before my flight on December 13. My list includes a few things I still want to capture pictures of and souvenirs I need to purchase for my family and friends.

Recently, I went to Dublin for a few days just to experience a new change in scenery from Cardiff and London. The people were really nice in Dublin. While I was there I thought that if I traveled by foot everywhere it would be more scenic journey than if caught a cab. Needless to say I was able to take lots of great pictures of the Dublin Castle, City Hall, the quay, and numerous other attractions. Friendly Leprechaun One thing I really liked about Dublin is that all of the attractions are rather close to each other. Even though I had known I was going to be visiting Dublin beforehand I still did not tell my mom till afterward, since I did not want them to worry about me.

Now I’m not encouraging anyone to go anywhere without your family. I decided to leave all my details with my cousin just in case something happened she would know where I was. I decided to mail my mom and granny a postcard from Dublin. I can’t wait to hear their reactions, when they get card in the mail.

On another note classes are getting better each week. It has been rather frustrating at times to adapt to UK academic standards of essay writing and test-taking. One the main differences are here the students are given more freedom in their essay structures to develop it however they want. In the American system many teachers think the more freedom you give students the more errors can occur. But I guess the key is just to keep a positive attitude and not to give up, because no one said studying abroad was going to be easy.

Though I am very anxious to get back home and see my family and friends, I realize that I will definitely miss Cardiff-the people, the atmosphere. I am already trying to figure out how and when I am going to come back. It looks like I could be back in the summer depending how a few things turn out. Well I have to run now.

In the park


p.s. this week’s pictures are from Dublin


A Week in Review

Time October 30th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

this where I take most of my classes

Last Saturday morning I attended a stop racism protest in Newport, Wales. Even though it was rainy there still was a decent-sized crowd. I had never been to a protest before this one. My mother and grandmother were surprised when I told them I wanted to go. They kept asking me if I was going to be safe. Needless to say the demonstration went well.

It was wonderful to see so many people come together for equality. Later that evening I found out that my grandfather had died earlier  that morning. I was so upset since I had just wrote him a postcard and was looking forward to seeing him when I get back in December.

Sunday was pretty much a slow day for me, since I was still mourning my grandfather.Art inside an underground walk way

Monday I got up went to my classes, even though I wasn’t really feeling up to it. When I came out of my 5’o’clock class it was dark outside. I was surprised. Then I found out that the time had changed the night before. Since my phone automatically updated itself I did not notice.

Tuesday and Wednesday I had no lectures. So I spent one day completing all my graduate school applications and essays. Then the next day I headed down to the city center to find an outfit for this big party in London that I am attending Friday Night.

After a few hours of walking from arcade to arcade I finally found something that I fancied.

Waiting for the bus to come so I can attend the protest

Thursday, which is today I only had one lecture. After my Politics & Journalism class I decided to head down to the center to meet a friend for lunch at Starbucks It’s amazing how Starbucks cakes seem to taste different in the UK compared to the ones in the US.

Tomorrow I have two seminars. I have so much reading to get through tonight. I’m not sure how or why I waited to the last minute this week. Well let me get to it. I just wanted to give you an update.



Adjusting to Life in the UK

Time October 12th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Classes started about two weeks ago. I’m still adjusting to the academia difference between my home university Alcorn and Cardiff Uni. One of the main differences is the fact that we spend less time in class, but are expected to spend more time outside of class time reading and researching for lectures, even though we do not have many physical daily or weekly homework assignments. I could have about 3 or 4 pieces of literature for each class per a week. So far my Conflict and Media is my favorite, because the lectures topics are very interesting. Since I’m not very familiar with British politics or race relations I would say my Politics & Journalism and Race, Nation, & Identity courses are bit more of a challenge. However, I’m very much up to conquering anything thrown my way. Last week the readings especially were somewhat hard for me to get through. But I know with time things will get better; the readings will become easier.

As it relates to the social scene, I’m still adjusting to that as well. Though there is a diversity of things for most students to do such as hang-out pubs, concerts etc., when it comes to events for minority cultures there is not as many options.

This experience is also teaching, really forcing me to come out of my shell and be less of an introvert. To help with this, I decided I would join a few societies (school clubs). Recently I joined the Fashion Society, and they hosted an event at House of Fraser last Thursday. After much deliberation, I decided to go and try to be more social. The fashion was great and I had nice time, plus everyone received goody bags. I’m looking forward to the knitting workshop in a couple weeks.

My weekend consisted of what I like to call Brandi’s London Adventures (lol). So Friday I went to London to visit one my friends who actually from Missouri. Friday went to a party at a nice club in East London. Saturday, we went to Central London to get new sketch books and paints as well fabrics. I really enjoy taking the underground subway every time I’m there. London is like my second home apart from Cardiff. I also decided that I want to venture outside of the U.K. So I booked me a ticket for Dublin and Milan (one of the major fashion capitals) next Monday.

This past week I also went to grocery store for the very first time. I was shocked when I went in and there no carts for you to put your groceries, just little hand held baskets. I understand why many places offer grocery delivery if you place your order online. Unfortunately, since my billing zip code is in the U.S. I can’t use this service. That just reminds me I bought some New York cheesecake while I was there. I will have to try it in a few.

Well it’s after midnight here. So let me get some rest.
-Brandi PikesRound Church in London


First Week

Time September 25th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Wow. I have been in the United Kingdom for just over a week. Today I woke up this morning and everyone was like why are you smiling so much wide. I just laughed. I thought to myself it’s a beautiful thing to be here, to wake up in another country unlike your own and know that there are any great and enriching encounters waiting to happen, new things to learn or to try, and vast amount of cultural experiences. Though I am in a new environment I understand I must keep my guard up. People love to spot an American and take advantage of them.
I really wish I didn’t have an American accent, because always ask me if I am American when I speak. Secondly, I wish I could speak pigeon. Lots of people speak pigeon here. I’m curious to know what they talk about.

This week I registered for my classes. I ended up having to change a couple of them, because the times conflicted with the other classes. So I ended up taking Politics & Journalism, Race, Nation, and Identity, and Conflict & Media. Classes start next week. I am excited. This week was called Freshers Week. The school had various events planned including, company, societies (school clubs), and sports fair.I joined four clubs. I joined the Fashion Society, Asian Society, United Nations Modeled Society, and the Bible Study Society.

Since I only been here a week, I’m still also adjusting to the culture and trying to meet new people. The second one is a little bit harder for me to do, since I am more of introvert. Hopefully, with the start of classes I will be able to come out my shell more on campus.

Since I have been her I have hung-out a couple times with my friend from Saint Louis, who lives in London.
Actually right now I’m sitting at her coffee table in London. Last night was one of her friends birthday parties. The affair was not like anything I had ever seen in the United States. I can’t even really explain it. But overall it was really kool.It feels really good to know someone who not that far away.Saturaday I will head back to Cardiff. Then Sunday I will go with some Cardiff’s international students on a tour of Wales, where we will get to see castle and a manor, then have lunch.

Well I have to go now, but check back next week or so to see how my courses went.


The Countdown

Time September 4th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Howdy, I’m Brandi and the countdown is on! In about 9 days I will be leaving the U.S. to study in the U.K.  More specifically, I will spend my fall semester in “Land of Songs,” formally known as Cardiff, Wales at Cardiff University.  I am very much excited since this will be more first time going to Europe.

This Sunday I am actually having a going away party.  Many of my friends and family have begun to ask me if I started to pack yet.  The answer is no!  Prior to Thursday I had been busy prepping for the GRE.  Now that I have took my test, I feel like almost ready to leave American soil. Even though I haven’t left yet, in some ways I know have started to feel homesick apprehension.  I know some of you may be thinking that’s crazy, but it is true.  I have two little sisters and when I look at them I realize how much I’m going to miss them.

With the help of facebook, I have been able to meet some students who already attend Cardiff Uni.  The students have been very helpful in answering my questions about course work, what to bring, student life, and so much.

Two weeks ago I received my dorm assignment; I received my first choice.  To my surprise, my dorm is actually one of the farthest dorms away from campus.  It’s about 30-45 minute walk to school.  At my home university I drive to my classes and they are about a 10 minute walk at the most.  With that being said, I know for sure I will definitely have some new and thrilling experiences.  This summer I have been reading and researching Wales and some surrounding countries.  One of things I’m looking forward to is sight-seeing in other Western European countries, since airfare is so reasonable.  I also I’m looking forward to trying a traditional Welsh fruit cake called “Bara brith”.  Bara brith actually means speckled bread in Welch.

Okay, well it’s time for me to get back to work.  I will try to write once more if I can before leave.

Peace & Love,