And so they begin…

 

Dear Friends,
This past week was indeed my first week of classes. It has certainly been a bit of a roller coaster ride. MWF I have no classes at all, Tues. I have lecture from 4-6, and Thurs. I have one lecture from 10-12 and another from 2-4.
Let me be honest here, when I first saw my schedule I thought, “This is going to be a breeze! Easiest semester ever.” In my ignorance, I even mentioned these thoughts to a few people, jokingly adding, “just wait, I’m going to regret saying that in a few weeks.”…Well, a few weeks came sooner than I had anticipated. While, yes, I do in fact have a lot of time when I am not actively in lectures, I also have beastly reading lists that taunt me as I get closer to their deadlines…if only I had been wise enough and prepared enough to have used my reading week to actually read…but I guess I have a bit more grace with myself, I just didn’t know what to expect from this system, and now I have a better understanding.

So, all that to say, this weekend will consist of lots and lots of reading and writing. I have three 2,000 word essays all due on Thursday. The essays, if assigned at Wheaton, would be no big dilemma as I am well-versed in the process of writing essays back home. Here though, I find myself in a strange world that does not require introductions or conclusions, while some require sources and others don’t, and overall I’m feely pretty intimidated. Also, their grading system is rather different where a score of 70 is considered excellent, a score below 60 is average, and a score below 50 is horrid.  I guess I’ll give it my best!

My weekend away was fanflippingtastic! On Friday I took the bus to the BBC Bristol building just down Whiteladies road from my hall in the Clifton Downs. From there I walked for a couple of minutes until I reached another beautiful church hidden on the corner of a street (seriously though, these things are everywhere. They are all so lovely. It’s like finding a hidden treasure each time you stumble across one of them.). I was about 20min early and it was a bit dark out, so I stood in the light of the church near the doorway. After a bit of standing there with my large backpack, reading my book, I began to feel a bit bad because I think I looked rather sketchy to the older women inside the church who would glance out the door every couple of minutes. Thankfully I soon found my ride and we were off.

One of the best things about the body of Christ is the camaraderie that comes with being apart of it. We drove about an hour south of Bristol and ended up in the middle of the English countryside. The house we stayed in was an especially designated Christian Retreat House. It was large and cozy at the same time (as well as a bit drafty, hence the importance of layers).  The moment I walked in and found my bed I felt an easy joy. I realized as I sat in my bed and chatted with the girls in my room that it had been almost four weeks since I had spent a substantial amount of time enjoying the presence of fellow Christians.

It was like remembering your thirst after being given a glass of water. We sang songs, heard words of encouragement and wisdom, prayed over one another, played games, talked, broke bread, and slept. It was a practiced representation of what the Body of Christ should look like in the day to day interactions of fellow believers. I was sharing my story and hearing stories from people I had never met before, yet we shared a history and were co-inhabitants of the same narrative due to the fellowship of our hope.

One of the most fun bits was going on a two hour walk through true English countryside. It was drizzling, terribly muddy (mud up to my lower calf), and blustery. I was so excited, the entire view was the very embodiment of what I imagined so many other English authors gazed upon in the writings of their novels. Another funny thought came to me as I was walking where I tried to imagine the glorious enterprises of King Arthur taking place in such environs, the idea that thousands of wars were fought in such conditions was both comical and impressive.

This mud was so slippery, deep, and squishy that I wished I had brought better clothes to romp around in (the temptation to push someone into the mud, or throw mud was almost overwhelming. The only things that kept me from it was a)that I had only brought the one pair of jeans , which I was wearing, and I only had the one jacket b)there was no laundry facilities back at the house. Otherwise, muddy carnage would’ve ensued and it would’ve been glorious). Also, the males of the group found a rather sizeable ditch over which they jumped as a sign and affirmation of their masculinity. This was also a moment where I SO VERY MUCH wanted to jump over that muddy ravine, but, gosh dang it, I would’ve had no trousers (because here, pants are your underwear)  to wear for the next day. Oh well, next time, I jump in on the muddy adventures.

 

Tonight we have our Valentines day formal (aka fancy dinner with capes) and there will be randomly assigned seating…who knows what will happen? 😉  This week I have oodles of reading, oodles of writing, and after Thursday I am sure I will collapse on my bed in sheer joy that the essays are done and the books are at least mostly read.  For the weekend I head off to Scotland on Friday! I am going to take an overnight coach to Edinburgh Friday night (with a largish group of other study abroad students) Saturday we will have a walking tour of the city, and Sunday we will have a packed lunch and a free day to do what we would like. I plan to take a friend’s advice and hike up to Arthur’s Seat on that day and take lovely photos (weather permitting… but, ya know what,  even if it doesn’t permit I am going to bloody well try to get some breathtaking photos.) I know my schedule with updating this blog has been sporadic, but most likely expect the next update not this Monday, but the next. Then I will be able to regale you with my adventures in Scotland! Well, thats all for me right now! I hope you all have a fantastic day!