-- Ben Jonson.
This has been a week of friends, new and old. It's been four straight days of a weird dichotomy of meeting even more people (after a month of doing nothing but sift through seas of faces for one that I might know) and, finally, seeing some familiar faces from back home.
It all started Wednesday when I was invited out quite spur-of-the-moment to a "social" (basically, bar-hopping with twists, such as drinking games and challenges...mine was to slip 2p into someone's drink without them noticing until the very end of their drink! I'm proud to say I accomplished this feat by dropping the coin into the social leader's cocktail when he had his back turned) by one of the leaders of the climbing club. Turns out it was a social with the climbers and the horse riding society, which are the two clubs on campus I'm really interested in joining, so naturally I had to go! It was a little awkward at first not knowing anyone but the guy who invited me at first, but I slowly started introducing myself to the horseback riders and then the climbers and got to know a good number of them by the time the night was over. In addition, I learned which bars have two-for-one cocktail nights on Wednesdays. Score. I got to see a couple of the same people on Thursday when I went to my first climbing club meeting...AND I got to climb for the first time since this summer! Holy cow, my limbs were like jell-o. It was worth it to get to the top and feel accomplished, though. ;)
Friday was just a whirlwind of sociality...and a whirlwind of crazy Michigan-esque weather ("do I rain? Do I snow? I dunno, maybe a little bit of both...but one thing I know for sure, I'm gonna be WINDY as HECK and screw with everyone's umbrellas and lives!! Muahahaha!" "...Thanks, Mother Nature. Thanks."). Somehow, Sam, John, and I were able to brave the elements to get to Starbucks for FREE BROWNIE DAY!!! ...Yeah. I'd love to say it was a chocolatey fudge dream all wrapped up in everything I'd ever hoped for and more with sprinkles on top, but it was pretty much just your run-of-the-mill brownie. Except it was free. With the purchase of an espresso drink. That little boring brownie was lucky I'm an espresso gal. ;P
After brownies, coffee, and camaraderie (including Sam beginning a list of examples of how I fail at being American...and all of them are pretty fair points), I went down the street to an adorable little tea shop where I met with Katie, a family friend/former next-door neighbor who goes way back...in fact, she used to babysit me! She and her husband live on a U.S. Army base near Harrogate right now, which isn't that far away at all. Talk about surreal...I've gotten so used to this world I'm living in now being my own individual adventure just by necessity, and not getting to bring in anyone from my former life in the U.S. simply because of distance. Seeing someone familiar -- someone I remember from across the ocean in a part of my life I left behind a month ago -- was kinda crazy for a split second. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing to get to see her and catch up on life (she even brought me Reese's cups and JIF peanut butter from the on-base grocery store!!!), and I think seeing someone familiar really helped me to feel like I'm not completely alone over here. Of course, going to Sabina's birthday party later that night (which included a pirate party at the Student Union, where I won a limbo contest, and going out to Revolution after that) with a plethora of the other internationals helped with that feeling, too...but in a new-friend kind of way. :)
Today (Saturday) continued the American-friend trend when I awoke to a text from Brittany, a friend from Hope. She's studying in Liverpool, and her uni took a day trip to York, so naturally we had to meet up! We met for coffee and then I took her around the city (I knew where stuff was! I knew where COOL stuff was! I'm actually learning this town!! Who knew?!?), and we got to talk about our experiences so far and compare notes. I'm happy to report that both of us have formed very favorable opinions on living and studying in England and on international travel in general. :D
It's been a crazy, nonstop week this week, what with classes, societies, parties, coffee/tea dates, and the mad rush of life in general. It could have been very tempting to get overwhelmed by everything...or by the fact that I have 75% of my time here remaining. I have three months until I see my family and my friends back home again, BUT that means I only have three precious months left to experience every unique, once-in-the-foreseeable-future thing I possibly can with the crazy, friendly, fun friends I've made here. It brings up a point I made in a previous post...no matter where I go for the rest of my life, I'll be far apart from a friend. This, more than anything, has made my global experience that much more global. The world becomes a much bigger place when you know you have friends who are separated by miles and miles of physical distance. This realization really put things into perspective for me; I am one person of many, many billions of people on many, many thousands of square miles of earth. No matter how many people I meet and know, there will always be distance and there will always be strangers. My job, through this experience, is really to lessen the number of those square miles I have not seen at to make fewer of those strangers strange. This is definitely a worthy goal for the next three months I'm in this place I call Not Home (Yet).
On that note: Barcelona and Rome spring break tix are SCORED. Holla.