So I finally started my junior year of college last Tuesday. It's crazy to think that I'm already halfway done with my degree and that I get to spend the first half of my academic year in England. Mistakenly, I though classes here would be structured in a similar manner to classes at North Central, but that was definitely not the case. The difference, though, has made my first week interesting and made me excited, and scared, of the next three months.
Before school started, though, a group of us signed up to go on a beach walk. Sunderland is on the River Wear which flows into the North Sea, so there was plenty of beach to walk. It was a pretty windy day, but it was still beautiful to walk along the river and sea and even stick my feet in the freezing cold water.
The progression of walking into the North Sea:
And then I went back for more.
This was also the first day that I had (FREE!!) fish and chips, an English seaside staple. I was happy to walk all the way to a stand near the sea just to get the best of the best. Our guide said that the only place to come get fish and chips was down by the sea, and I think he was right. It's been my favorite meal so far.
My mouth is watering just looking at this photo. It's much greasier than it appears and is smothered in lots of vinegar and salt.
We also stopped in St. Andrew's church on this walk since it's famous in Northern England for it's painted ceiling.
After the weekend was over, the anxiety about starting classes began to set in. It's very intimidating to walk into a situation where you know absolutely no one. At North Central, I always knew at least one person in my classes, so to know no one really scared me.
In terms of my class schedule for the semester, I'm taking only two courses. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I have Advanced Fashion Product which is a level two design course. On Thursdays, I have Styling for Fashion Editorial which is also a level two course. Luckily, I have every Monday and Friday off, so be prepared for lots of traveling happening on the weekends. But anyways, AFP was first up for my week.
I felt like I had to plan my first day of school outfit extra carefully because I was about to walk into the most fashionable setting in my whole life. No offense, American students, but British students are way better at dressing for class than you, and I love it. I ended up wearing a bodysuit and a pair navy wide leg pants from H&M with some simple loafers from Primark.
While I admired many outfits in class, I was too damn scared to say anything to anyone. I sat quietly and waited for someone to approach me which, of course, didn't happen. Even though my friends and family may not think so, I am a very introverted person. I am too afraid to talk to people, mostly out of fear of sounding stupid. I feel like my shyness/intimidation has decreased since I started college, but this was one of my most uncomfortable days by far, especially because I was introduced, several times, by the teacher. "Please make Halle, our international student from Chicago, feel welcome." I honestly felt anything but. My anxiety only grew as she began going over the brief, or syllabus, for the semester. Like I mentioned before, this is a level two design class. I am in no way a designer. I can't draw or sew, and I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. Honestly, this was on my alternate course list and I never thought I would be taking it. I was hoping for courses in my expertise like fashion journalism, but they wouldn't all work out in one schedule. So here I am in a class where I feel like I don't belong.
And then I got sent on a hours-long adventure to Newcastle for art supplies. Newcastle is about a 30 minute train ride from Sunderland, so not a long journey, but it seemed a little pointless to go there and get art supplies. One of our teachers asked me and another international student from Chicago, Robert, if we had our supplies. We didn't, so naturally, he sent us on our way with two British students, Annabelle and Lauren, to go find this little art shop he loves in Newcastle called Details. We went, we saw, we purchased art supplies. Annabelle and Lauren were very nice and great about showing us around Newcastle and answering any questions we had. They also introduced us to a place called Wetherspoons which has authentic British pub food at really low prices. I ordered an ale pie, chips, peas and a hot chocolate (it was cold, OK?) for only £7. I can't wait to go back to this pub (there are a few locations in Sunderland as well) and try more pub favorites from their large menu.
A few photos of Newcastle which is on the River Tyne:
We also stopped in the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and checked out one of the student galleries:
As I said earlier, on Thursdays, I have Styling for Fashion Editorial. This class is much more in my realm of knowledge, so I'm actually super excited for this one. Styling is a piece of what I want to do, so it will be great to practice those skills even more as well as continuing to improve my photography skills. On Thursday, I spent half an hour looking for my classroom. I also asked three people until I found the other students and they said we were waiting for the teacher. I was intimidated at first in this class because again, everyone knew everyone else and I was the stranger, but the teacher talked to me a lot while the other groups were doing their photo shoots in the studio. Two other girls also talked to me and we grouped together for an awesome photo shoot that I posted about on Thursday. You can read about my outfit and the shoot here! I have a feeling that this will be my favorite class of the semester.
This past Saturday, we went to our first futbol game. We went to watch Sunderland play West Brom at the Stadium of Light which is right here in Sunderland. I've never been much of a soccer fan, but it was fun to experience the atmosphere and watch the game. It ended in a tie, which wasn't very exciting to my cousin Zach, but it was still an enjoyable albeit cold day. According to basically everyone, Sunderland has one of the worst teams in the Premier League, but I think we'll go back for more games while we're here.
Finally, a friend update. I've mostly spent my time with other American students as well as some Spanish and German students. We typically go out in a large group together, and it's always a lot of fun... at least until the next morning.
My only complaint is that I don't feel like I'm making friends in my classes, I know it was only the first week, but I left that week with no one new to hang out with or get to know. Hopefully I'll be able to make friends with more of my classmates, but that requires talking, so we'll see how that goes. It's just a little more difficult than normal because I feel like an outsider in my classes. I'm hoping I won't feel as intimidated in my classes this week. I'll be sure to update you if I miraculously make a friend.
I hope you enjoyed this little update of the past week! Stay tuned because I'm taking my first trip—any guesses where? Have a great week!