I leave for the east coast tomorrow morning and although I won’t be in the United Kingdom for another two weeks or starting my program for another month, this feels like the beginning of my study abroad journey.

Although my time at home was relaxing, I did well to keep myself busy by tackling my mile-long to do list, including shopping for travel supplies and a warmer, more weather-tolerant wardrobe, attending appointments, exchanging currency and applying for a visa. I made sure to spend quality time with my family and friends by going to movies, dining out, staying in, or simply talking.

I got a lot of my university information, including accommodation. I landed my second choice, Lancaster House, the closest dorm-style accommodation they have. I will be supposedly be sharing a kitchen with my whole wing (ten other people) and a bathroom with four other people, but I will have my own room with a wash basin. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but I’m excited to meet new people and settle in. I really enjoyed interacting with everyone in the dorms my freshman year at Arizona State and I look forward to having a similar arrangement abroad but with my own room. My university address is:

Lancaster House Room 105
University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton, East Sussex
United Kingdom BN1 9QP

I also got my “buddy” assigned to me. The University of Sussex gas a program called Buddy Scheme, where freshman, international students and exchange students can be paired with a British student for advise, resources and more. My buddy’s name is Victorija, she’s Latvian and a third year like myself. She’s been offering me all sorts of pearls of wisdom about academics and campus life. She has really helped put my mind at ease and I can’t wait to meet her in person!

I have been planning and waiting for my study abroad program for about a year on top of longing to travel for several years prior and it’s surreal to think it all begins tomorrow. I’m thankful for everyone who has supported me, especially my family and British friends, who made this possible by giving me advice and being awesome hosts.

I will look back on tomorrow as the first day of one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I can’t wait to share it with all my readers.

Photo by Lesly Juarez.

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Saturday, 11 July: We (my immediate family) woke up bright and early for our long day of flying. We flew from Tucson to Phoenix, then to Phoenix to Los Angeles, then finally, from Los Angeles to Maui. We were lucky enough to fly first class the whole way. It was especially nice for the five-hour flight to Maui, where I was able to watch some of my favorite shows and play some games. Once we got into Maui, we got groceries, checked into our hotel and later went to the beach and pool. Whether it was the jet lag, lousy amount I’ve sleep I had the two previous nights, or some combination of both, we went to bed early.

Sunday, 12 July: We had a relaxing day of hanging around the hotel and overcoming jetlag before going out for dinner.

Monday, 13 July: I went for a walk on the beach in the morning before we headed a few miles down the shore to Black Rock, a jumping point. I’ve probably been out of practice, but the swim there was tiring. My brothers and I jumped off the twenty foot rock into the ocean a few times before swimming back to shore for some snorkeling.

Tuesday, 14 July: We departed from Ka’anapali Beach on a boat to Honolua Bay for an afternoon of snorkeling. We snorkeled for about an hour and a half in the crystal clear waters, where the highlights were seeing a sea turtle and schools of upwards of a hundred fish. While we were eating lunch on the boat, we spotted a few Hawaiian spinner dolphins putting on a show in the mouth of the bay and a large sea turtle. On our way back, the dolphins drew nearer to the boat to ride our surf. Towards the end of our excursion, I met an Olympian and fellow passenger, silver medalist Megan Bozek from the U.S. women’s hockey team. I was starstruck, she was so sweet.

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Sunday, 28 June: Colin had to work in the morning, but I kept myself busy while he was away. Once he got back, we headed to Grand Bend for Stegall Festival, a concert featuring local bands in a small bar in Grand Band hosted by the Stegall family, with their three daughters headlining the event. The purpose of the event was to raise money for their recording expenses. There, we met up with our friends, Scott and Kayleigh, and walked down the strip a few times between bands. I was impressed with the talent, especially  that of Three Forks, a local band who I also saw in December, and Cats. After the Stegall sisters played, we went back to the house for an evening of relaxing.

Monday, 29 June: Colin dropped me off at the farm in the morning on his way to work. Pam didn’t return until later in the afternoon, so our work day of washing sprout trays and weeding was short lived. That evening, we had our first campfire. It took a while to start and the mosquitoes were eating us alive, but it was nice to watch once the fire was developed.

Tuesday, 30 June: There was somewhat of an overcast starting early in the day, but that didn’t stop us from weeding, and neither did the rain. On the bright side, the rain wasn’t too heavy and it warded off the mosquitoes. However, even light rain becomes unpleasant to work in after a while. After lunch, we cleaned the house thoroughly for Pam’s friends visiting this weekend. I swept the floors, vacuumed the rugs and cleaned out the pantry. After I cooked that evening, Colin picked me up to spend Canada Day together.

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Monday, 22 June: Colin dropped me off at the farm on Monday afternoon, where our work day was short-lived due to an oncoming storm. The storm made for cozy reading weather and I finished The Stand that afternoon. However, the storm took a turn for the worst that evening, yielding a tornado warning throughout the county. The tornado went just north of us and the warning was demoted to a watch for the remainder of the night.

Tuesday, 23 June: It rained in the early hours of the morning, but the wind helped dry it enough to work in the field. After a long day of weed-pulling, cooking dinner and watering the sprouts, I was exhausted and ready for bed early.

Wednesday, 24 June: Dominique and I had to work my two least favorite plants to weed: the strawberries and the asparagus, where the weeds are too small or too large to use the hoe on and they all have to be picked by hand. Not to mention, the mosquitoes were eating me alive. On the bright side, Colin’s mom gave me some miraculous after-bite cream that works extremely well. After lunch, I helped Pam prepare for the market by making labels, taking out the trash, washing sprouting trays and going over what we need to bring.

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Sunday, 14 June: Once again, it rained all day Sunday, but this time it wasn’t so much of a problem since Colin and I were planning on watching the new season of one of our favorite shows, Orange is the New Black, anyway. Although nearly fourteen hours of the show in one day was a bit much, I loved our lazy day.

Monday, 15 June: Pam and Dominique returned from Stratford in the early afternoon and we did some light weeding until dinner.

Tuesday, 16 June: It was an especially exhausting day of weed-pulling (that is, whatever we could pull that wasn’t flooded), but Pam made an excellent dinner of stir fry.

Wednesday, 17 June: Jason and Dominique left in the morning for an internship workshop in Stratford, so it was just me and Pam for most of the day. The morning was easy; I managed the sprouts and prepared the salad mix for the market. Part of the afternoon was spent, you guessed it, weed-pulling. Now that everything is in the ground, Pam says that the worst is over and most of our work will just be weed-pulling and pest control, but I beg to differ; weed-pulling is exhausting. Anyway, that didn’t last long because I had to help prepare for the market by putting the spices in jars and by making all sorts of labels. Jason and I took on the task of doing the London market by ourselves without Pam, so we spent part of the evening going over what to pack and things to remember.

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